Early initiation of marijuana use, education, and earnings of young adults

Isabelle C. Beulaygue, Michael T. French, Philip K. Robins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We estimate the relationships between early initiation of marijuana use (i.e., during middle school or high school), educational attainment and performance, and earnings as a young adult. Grounded in a developmental stages theoretical framework, results indicate that early initiation of marijuana use is negatively related to both educational outcomes and earnings, but the estimated relationships for earnings are diminished in models that control for education and other socioeconomic characteristics. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that early marijuana use indirectly affects young adult earnings through its negative effects on educational outcomes. Our results also indicate that early marijuana initiators who grow up in economically disadvantaged families may have worse educational outcomes than their counterparts who do not grow up with economic disadvantages. Reduced education and earnings among young adults could increase the likelihood of the individual and their family suffering economic hardships later in life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-63
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Children and Poverty
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • GPA
  • Marijuana
  • adolescence
  • education
  • graduation
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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