Why Do Adolescents (mis)Behave? School Shifts, Sleep Patterns, Mental Health and Risky Behaviors

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Adolescence is a transformative period marked by physiological, emotional, and social changes, often characterized by a peak in risky behaviors. This study explores the impact of sleep on these behaviors. Leveraging a natural experiment involving random shift allocations in a competitive public school in Argentina, the analysis reveals that early morning start times do not have a significant Average Treatment Effect on self-reported deviant behavior, encompassing criminal activities, violence, drug use, and suicidal thoughts. However, significant gender disparities emerge. Girls assigned to early morning start times are 20% less likely to report deviant behavior, while boys are 19% more likely to do so. Sleep patterns play a crucial role in this discrepancy, with afternoon shifts positively affecting sleep duration, particularly for boys, aligning with the sexual dimorphism in body clocks hypothesis. These findings also offer a potential explanation for the gender gap in disruptive behavior. The paper discusses the impact of classroom composition and peer effects, and addresses endogeneity concerns. My findings underscore the potential policy implications of delaying school start times to enhance adolescent sleep patterns and mitigate risky behaviors.

Asistencia presencial: Aula C2.03 Campus de Sevilla

Keywords: Adolescence, gender differences, Natural Experiment, Risky Behaviors, School Start Times, Sleep, Socioemotional Development