Scholars Find More Work=Less Risky Behavior

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

In days of yore–i.e., my childhood–the Sisters of Saint Joseph used to tell us that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. It looks like academia is catching up to that outlook. “Some of the reduction in risky behavior by teenagers is driven by greater academic demands at school,” Austin Frakt writes in The New York Times. “Zhuang Hao, an economics Ph.D. candidate, and the economist Benjamin Cowan, both at Washington State University, examined the number of math and science courses that states required for a high school diploma and the relationship to risky behavior among high school students.”

Their research appeared in the American Journal of Health Economics. “According to the study, these increases in state math and science high school graduation requirements reduced alcohol consumption without any offsetting increase in marijuana or cigarette use,” Frakt writes. “More demanding academic standards decreased the number of days teenagers drank as well as the rate at which they engaged in binge drinking (defined as more than five drinks at a time).”

“For each additional math or science course required of high school students, the probability they drank or binge drank fell 1.6 percent.”