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‘High’ achievers? Cannabis access and academic performance


Marie, Olivier; Zölitz, Ulf (2017). ‘High’ achievers? Cannabis access and academic performance. Review of Economic Studies, 48(3):1210-1237.

Abstract

This paper investigates how legal cannabis access affects student performance. Identification comes from an exceptional policy introduced in the city of Maastricht in the Netherlands that discriminated access via licensed cannabis shops based on an individual’s nationality. We apply a difference-in-difference approach using administrative panel data on course grades of local students enrolled at Maastricht University before and during the partial cannabis prohibition. We find that the academic performance of students who are no longer legally permitted to buy cannabis substantially increases. Grade improvements are driven by younger students and the effects are stronger for women and low performers. In line with how cannabis consumption affects cognitive functioning, we find that performance gains are larger for courses that require more numerical/mathematical skills. Our investigation of underlying channels using course evaluations suggests that performance gains are driven by an improved understanding of the material rather than changes in students’ study effort.

Abstract

This paper investigates how legal cannabis access affects student performance. Identification comes from an exceptional policy introduced in the city of Maastricht in the Netherlands that discriminated access via licensed cannabis shops based on an individual’s nationality. We apply a difference-in-difference approach using administrative panel data on course grades of local students enrolled at Maastricht University before and during the partial cannabis prohibition. We find that the academic performance of students who are no longer legally permitted to buy cannabis substantially increases. Grade improvements are driven by younger students and the effects are stronger for women and low performers. In line with how cannabis consumption affects cognitive functioning, we find that performance gains are larger for courses that require more numerical/mathematical skills. Our investigation of underlying channels using course evaluations suggests that performance gains are driven by an improved understanding of the material rather than changes in students’ study effort.

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12 citations in Web of Science®
15 citations in Scopus®
4 citations in Microsoft Academic
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Marijuana, legalization, student performance
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:09 Feb 2018 09:20
Last Modified:08 Apr 2020 22:58
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0034-6527
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/restud/rdx020
Official URL:https://academic.oup.com/restud/article/84/3/1210/3091869

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