Abstract In 2011, 6.4 million children were diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
with nearly 70% of them taking ADHD medication. However, little evidence exists on the effectiveness of ADHD medication particularly on academic achievement. We instrument for treatment receipt using provider propensity to prescribe to estimate the causal effects of ADHD medication on South Carolina Medicaid students’ elementary, middle school, and high school test scores as well as grade retention. The results uncover mostly impeding effects of ADHD medication. If treated with ADHD medication, male and female students are more likely to repeat a grade and females perform worse on middle and high school test scores. This negative effect is most apparent for females diagnosed with combined inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive ADHD. We also find evidence that ADHD medication improves test scores for males diagnosed with inattentive ADHD in elementary school, but these effects vanish by middle school.

- "Sex, Drugs, and ADHD: The Effects of ADHD Pharmacological Treatment on Teens' Risky Behaviors", with Anna Chorniy. Labour Economics. July 2016. (Supported by the NBER Pre-Doctoral Fellowship)

:  In the U.S., 8% of children are diagnosed with ADHD and 70% of those are taking medications, yet little evidence exists on the effects of ADHD treatment on children's outcomes. We use a panel of South Carolina Medicaid claims data to investigate the effects of ADHD drugs on the probability of risky sexual behavior outcomes (STDs and pregnancy), substance abuse disorders, and injuries. To overcome potential endogeneity, we instrument for treatment using physicians' preferences to prescribe medication. Our findings suggest that pharmacological treatment has substantial benefits. If reduces the probability of contracting an STD by 3.6 percentage points (5.8 percentage points if we include STD screening), reduces the probability of having a substance abuse disorder by 7.3 percentage points, reduces the probability of injuries by 2.3 percentage points per year, and associated with them Medicaid costs decrease by $88.4, or 0.054 of a standard deviation.

Future Work:
- “ADHD Medication Treatment and Peer Effects on Classmates’ Educational Outcomes”

Leah Kitashima,
Oct 19, 2016, 8:11 AM