Minority Health Improves in Positive School Environment, Study Finds

Low-income minority boys’ health improves when they are in high-performing school environments, according to a recent study by UCLA Luskin Associate Professor of Public Policy Sarah Reber and co-authors from the David Geffen School of Medicine. The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, used admission lotteries for high-performing public charter schools in Los Angeles and surveyed 1,270 students who applied. Over a four-year period, their behavior was tracked. Among boys, the study found less marijuana use, less truancy, more time spent studying, greater teacher support for college and less school mobility. The study did not find any significant health improvements among girls. “Future studies targeting school-based social networks and school culture … can begin to identify the pathways through which to build healthier schools,” the researchers said. They concluded that investing in higher-quality public education will reflect positively on the students’ health. The study, titled “Assessment of Exposure to High-Performing Schools and Risk of Adolescent Substance Use: A Natural Experiment,” was co-authored by the School of Medicine’s Rebecca Dudovitz and Paul Chung. News coverage of the report appeared in U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider and other publications.


 

Sarah Reber

Bio

I am an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. I received my Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 2003. From 2003 to 2005, I was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at UC Berkeley.

My research in education focuses on understanding the educational, social, and fiscal effects—both intended and unintended—of some of the most important policies of the 20th century: school desegregation, the Civil Rights Act, and the massive expansion of federal aid to K-12 education that Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act represented. In addition, I am conducting a randomized field experiment of two interventions designed to increase college enrollment among disadvantaged students.

My research in health economics examines the advantages and disadvantages of promoting competition in health insurance markets.

Affiliations

Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
Faculty Affiliate, California Center for Population Research
Faculty Affiliate, California Policy Lab

More information about her research and teaching can be found at sarahreber.com.