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Title: Adolescent Maturation: Identification, Estimation, and Implications
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Mak, Ho-nam
Adolescent Maturation: Identification, Estimation, and Implications
Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Economics, University of Toronto (Canada), 2015
Cohort(s): NLSY97
Publisher: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT)
Keyword(s): Adolescent Behavior; Alcohol Use; Cigarette Use (see Smoking); Drug Use; Gender Differences; Self-Control/Self-Regulation

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

Adolescents engage in risky behaviors due to a lack of self-control; many among them stop after they mature. This behavioral theory, supported by neuroscientific evidence on late brain maturation, implies that an age-participation rate plot of any risky behavior should be hump-shaped. In this thesis, I introduce maturation to a standard panel model describing risky behaviors to serve two purposes: First, doing so corroborates the neuroscientific findings on maturation timing. Second, it allows the study of maturation's effects on adolescent risky behaviors. The key difficulty of introducing maturation in to a behavioral model is that in a behavioral data set, maturation is a latent time-varying characteristic, and also it correlates with the observables (age in particular); therefore, a standard panel data model cannot capture it. To solve this problem, I define maturation as one or more unobserved treatments, with both the treatment effect and timing being unknown and heterogeneous.

Chapter 1 reports the empirical findings of an analysis using the basic specification of this augmented econometric model with one unobservable treatment. Specifically, the estimated maturation age distribution has a median of age 21 and is right-skewed. Maturation effects are much stronger than environmental effects, evidenced by the observation that adolescents mostly stop engaging in risky behaviors due to maturation rather than environmental changes. The estimated maturation effect for binge drinking can serve as a benchmark for the evaluation of existing adolescent policies.

Chapter 3 studies the gender gap in risky behaviors. While the maturation timings of the males and females are close to each other, their maturation effects differ. The environmental differences between the two genders also diverge as adolescents age. Together, these two findings explain a diverging gender gap related to risky behaviors.

Bibliography Citation
Mak, Ho-nam. Adolescent Maturation: Identification, Estimation, and Implications. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Economics, University of Toronto (Canada), 2015.