Essays on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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In the first essay, we use stochastic dominance techniques to understand how the reporting of behavioral problems as well as ADHD prevalence has changed between 2000 and 2004. This time period coincides with changes in national educational policy which we hypothesize may have influenced the reporting of behavioral problems in children and a change in ADHD prevalence. We use stochastic dominance techniques and find that the distribution of behavioral problems in 2004 first-order stochastically dominates that of 2000. We then use decomposition techniques to study the primary drivers of changes in mother reported behavioral problems. We find evidence that changes in the educational policy between 2000 to 2004 led mothers of elementary school children to alter their reporting of child hyperactivity. In the second essay, we explore whether the introduction of school accountability policies can account for changes in ADHD diagnosis. We exploit differences across states and time in the introduction of school accountability laws to estimates differences in mean ADHD diagnosis. The results from our analysis suggest that one policy, state-level rewards given to high-performing schools, leads to approximates a 3 percentage point increase in the probability of an ADHD diagnosis among children. We find that the children most impacted by the policy are those whose mothers’ reported zero behavioral problems in the pre-policy period, perhaps indicating that prior to the policy these mothers did not believe that their child had behavioral problems. In the third and final essay, I study the impact of child ADHD on parental labor market and relationship dissolution outcomes. As unobserved characteristics may simultaneously impact the likelihood of having a child diagnosed with ADHD and outcomes of the parent, results using OLS estimation are likely biased. I mitigate issues of endogeneity using an instrumental variables framework where I utilize state-level educational policy as an instrument for child ADHD diagnosis. To be a valid instrument, the educational policy should be correlated with child ADHD, while exogenous to parental outcomes. While in several specifications, I find negative effects of child ADHD on parental outcomes using OLS, interestingly, IV estimates all lead to a switching of sign and are largely insignificant. Findings indicate that parental labor market and marital status outcomes are not impacted by child ADHD.

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