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September 08, 2021

Lower tuition costs lead to less sex, drugs among teens: report

The idea of going to college or university in the States is scary, isn’t it?

16620805-16620805-graduation-caps-thrown-in-the-air Consider: the average tuition for schools in Ontario or Manitoba falls in the $3,000-$6,000 range per year, as of 2006-07. Go across the border to Michigan State or even down to somewhere like George Washington University and we’re looking at $11,722 and $40,437 per year, respectively. Frightening.

In the face of that kind of economic commitment, then, it’s no wonder some kids write off the idea of post-secondary education altogether. I can barely afford food and clothes now, how can I possibly justify, or secure, $50,000 at minimum over the next four years?

And, according to a new research paper, that higher tuition certainly has its effects on teenage behaviour. In the U.S., the study suggests, higher tuition costs leads to increased sexual partners and higher cigarette/drug use among graduating high school students.

By the findings of Benjamin Cowan’s “Forward-thinking teens: The effects of college costs of adolescent risky behaviour,” published in the Economics of Education Review and encompassing data from across the U.S., each $1,000 the cost of tuition decreases has a significant empirical impact on 17-year-olds, the very group weighing “education vs. workforce.”

*Bing: How much can you expect your income to jump by getting a degree?

Cowan found that for each thousand bucks tuition came down, the average number of sexual partners 17-year-olds engaged with dropped by 26 per cent, about 14 per cent of 17-year-olds smoked less and about 23 per cent used marijuana less.

By contrast, for every $1,000 tuition increases, a student’s expectations of continuing school drops by 5.7 per cent.

So, quite clearly to me, at least, this is proof that students weigh the cost of education when setting their life and career expectations.

“The argument that supports these results is that as rational forward-looking individuals, teenagers understand that risky sexual behaviour today has the potential to impose costs in the future,” notes economist Marina Adshade on the study. “If a student doesn’t anticipate furthering their education after high school, then the expected cost of pregnancy (in terms of forgone future income) is lower than if the student planned to acquire more education and, as a result, expected a higher future income.”

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...