Montana State University

Isaac Swensen, Ph.D.


Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics
Montana State University
P.O. Box 172920
Bozeman, MT 59717-2920

Tel: (406) 994-3729
Fax: (406) 994-4838
E-mail: isaac.swensen@montana.edu
Location:313C Linfield Hall

Research

Publications

Alcohol and Student Performance: Estimating the Effect of Legal Access  PDF
    Joint with Jason Lindo and Glen Waddell, Forthcoming at Journal of Health Economics 

          Abstract:    
We consider the effect of legal access to alcohol on student achievement. Our preferred approach identifies the effect through changes in one's performance after gaining legal access to alcohol, controlling flexibly for the expected evolution of grades as one makes progress towards their degree. We also report RD-based estimates but argue that an RD design is not well suited to the research question in our setting. We find that students' grades fall below their expected levels upon being able to drink legally, but by less than previously documented. We also show that there are effects on women and that the effects are persistent. Using the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we show that students drink more often after legal access but do not consume more drinks on days on which they drink.
   
Are Big-Time Sports a Threat to Student Achievement
?  PDF
    Joint with Jason Lindo and Glen Waddell, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(4), 2012

          Abstract:    
We consider the relationship between collegiate-football success and non-athlete student performance. We find that the team's success significantly reduces male grades relative to female grades. This phenomenon is only present in the fall quarters, which coincides with the football season.  Using survey data, we find that males are  more likely than females to increase alcohol consumption, decrease studying, and increase partying in response to the success of the team. Yet, females also report that their behavior is affected by athletic success, suggesting that their performance is likely impaired but that this effect is masked by the practice of grade curving. 

Working Papers

Substance-Abuse Treatment and  Mortality PDF
    
       Abstract:    
Drug-overdose deaths, which have more than doubled over the past decade, represent a growing public-health concern. Though substance-abuse treatment may be an effective way to reduce drug abuse, evidence for a causal effect of treatment on drug-related mortality is lacking. Given the stigma associated with treatment, low completion rates, high risk of relapse, and that many patients are referrals from the criminal justice system, the effect of treatment is not obvious a priori. In this paper, I analyze the effect of substance-abuse treatment on mortality by exploiting county-level variation in treatment facilities driven by facility openings and closings. The estimates indicate that a 10-percent increase in facilities lowers a county's drug-induced mortality rate by 2 percent. Moreover, the benefits of treatment facilities persist across a range of individual and county characteristics and further indicate that spillovers of treatment reduce other causes of death related to drug abuse.

Work in Progress 

Does Substance-Abuse Treatment Reduce Crime?

I examine the effect of substance-abuse treatment on crime. My research design uses county-level facility openings and closings over time to identify the effect of specialized substance-abuse treatment facilities on county crime rates. Preliminary results suggest a significant decline in property-crime rates associated with an additional treatment facility.