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J Health Econ. 2011 Mar;30(2):355-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.01.007. Epub 2011 Feb 1.

School accountability laws and the consumption of psychostimulants.

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Division of Health and Social Care Research, Kings College London, London, UK.


Over the past decade, several states introduced varying degrees of accountability systems for schools, which became federal law with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The intent of these accountability laws was to improve academic performance and to make school quality more observable. Nonetheless, schools have reacted to these pressures in several different ways, some of which were not intended. We make use of the variation across states and over time in specific provisions of these accountability laws and find that accountability pressures effect medical diagnoses and subsequent treatment options of school aged children. Specifically, children in states with more stringent accountability laws are more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and consequently prescribed psychostimulant drugs for controlling the symptoms. However, conditional on diagnosis, accountability laws do not further change the probability of receiving medication therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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