Evaluation for the LifeSkills Training Program

Nia Harrison, Nikola Juris, Dori Stern, and Steven Stern

 

LifeSkills Training is a substance abuse prevention program aimed at reducing the risks of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, and violence. It has three major components: drug resistance skills, personal self-management skills, and general social skills (LifeSkills, 2008). Using an evaluation of this program by Griffin, Botvin, and Nichols (1994), we estimated the net benefits of the program. These evaluations are shown below in Table 1. Furthermore, some of the assumptions we made in the initial calculations were then altered to determine the sensitivity of our analysis and are shown in Table 2.[1]

           

Table 1

Boys

Girls

Effect on probability of having multiple sex partners

0.033

0.033

Effect on probability of having sex when drunk or high

0.053

0.053

Effect on probability of doing drugs

0.047

0.047

Effect of drugs on the probability of graduating HS

0.068

0.068

Avg. HS wage/hr

$15

$13.50

Annual Earnings

$30,000

$27,000

Cost

$23

$23

Annual Benefit of not having multiple sex partners

$250

$250

Annual benefit of not having sex when drunk or high

$0

$74

Annual benefit of not doing drugs

$5,103

$5,103

Annual benefit of graduating HS

$938

$845

Discount factor

0.9

0.9

Long-term benefit of not having multiple sex partners

$83

$83

Long-term benefit of not having sex when drunk or high

$0

$39

Long-term benefit of not doing drugs

$2,399

$2,399

Long-term benefit of graduating HS

$9,384

$8,446

Net benefit

$11,842

$10,943

 

Griffin Botvin, and Nichols (1994) estimated that LifeSkills Training decreases the probability of having multiple sex partners by 3.3%, lowers the probability of having sex when drunk or high by 5.3%, and reduces the probability of doing drugs by 4.7%, all invariant to gender. Lynskey et al. (2003) reported that doing drugs reduces the probability of completing high school by 6.8%. We assumed that an average male (female) high school graduate earns $15.00 ($13.50) per hour. Assuming one works 2000 hours per year, we have base annual earnings of $30,000 ($27,000) for males (females). We calculated the annual benefit of graduating high school as the annual high school earnings multiplied by 46% (Card, 1999) and by the effect that doing drugs has on the probability of graduation, 6.8%, resulting in $938 ($845) for boys (girls).

 

Ericksen and Trocki (1994) found that the having multiple sex partners increases the likelihood of contracting an STD by 12.5%. Multiplying this by an assumed $2000 cost of getting an STD yields $250, the annual benefit of not having multiple sex partners for both boys and girls. The annual benefit of not having sex when drunk or high was calculated for girls as the assumed effect of drugs on getting pregnant (2%) multiplied by the annual cost of pregnancy, $3700 (Task Force on Teen Pregnancy Prevention, 1999). This yields a benefit of $74, and it was assumed that there is no effect for boys.  Adjusting estimates from French et al. (2002) to fit a one-year time period, we calculated that the annual benefit of not doing drugs is $5,103.  The cost of the program is $2000 for 125 students with a variable cost of $7 per student, coming out to a cost of $23 per student (LifeSkills, 2008).

 

Table 2

 

 

 

 

 

Assumption

Net Benefit of the Program

Average high school wage per hour

Boys

                  $15.00

$11,842

 

 

$30.00

$21,226

 

Girls

$13.50

$10,943

 

 

$27.00

$19,389

Discount factor

Boys

.9

$11,842

 

 

.8

$5,910

 

Girls

.9

$10,942

 

 

.8

$5,460

Annual benefit of not having multiple sex partners

Boys

$250.00

$11,842

 

 

$2,500

$12,585

 

Girls

$250.00

$10,942

 

 

$2,500

$11,685

Annual benefit of not having sex when drunk or high

Girls

$74.00

$10,942

 

 

$158.56

$10,982

Depreciating benefits

Boys

Base 1/(1-β)

$11,842

 

 

1.220

$1,425

 

Girls

     Base 1/(1-β)

$10,943

 

 

1.220

$964

Cost of the program

Boys

$23

$11,842

 

 

$120

$11,745

 

Girls

$23

$10,943

 

 

$120

$10,846

                                                                

In order to translate these calculations into long-term benefits, we assumed that the annual discount factor was 0.9. The long-term benefit of not having multiple sex partners was determined by multiplying the program’s effect on having multiple sex partners by the annual benefit of not having multiple sex partners, and adding up the discounted benefits over the remainder of the individual’s life. This results in $83 for both girls and boys. To calculate the long-term benefit of not having sex when drunk or high for girls, the program’s effect on having sex when drunk or high was multiplied by the annual benefit of not having sex when drunk or high and then discounting the benefits. This yields a benefit of $39. Similarly, the long-term benefit of not doing drugs was determined as the program’s effect on the likelihood of doing drugs multiplied by the annual benefit of not doing drugs, then discounting these benefits. Both boys and girls have a benefit of $83. Finally, the annual benefit of graduating high school, discounted, yields a long-term benefit for graduating high of $9,384 ($8,446) for boys (girls). Adding up all the long-term benefits and subtracting the cost of the program leaves a net benefit of $11,842 ($10,943) for boys (girls).

 

            In Table 2, various assumptions that had been made in the base case were changed, one at a time while holding the others constant, in order to measure the sensitivity of the base case analysis. Doubling the average high school wage per hour yields a new net benefit of $21,226 (19,391) for boys (girls). If we decrease the discount factor from 0.9 to 0.8, net benefits become $5,901 ($5,461) for boys (girls). If we increase the cost of getting an STD from $2,000 to $20,000,[2]  the new net benefit becomes $12,585 ($11,688) for boys (girls). Doubling the assumed effect of drugs on getting pregnant to 4% results in an annual benefit of not having sex when drunk or high for girls to $158.56 with a new net benefit of $10,988.

 

There was some concern that the benefits of the program would dissipate over time. To measure the impact of this concern, we considered the possibility that benefits would depreciate by 80% per year during teen years. We assumed that the average age of participation in LifeSkills Training is 12, implying 6 years of depreciation. This leads to a multiplier of 1.22, as seen in Table 2, while the base case multiplier was 10. This reduction in the multiplier causes net benefits to decrease to $7,630 ($2,306) for boys (girls).

 

            One way to deal with the concern of benefit dissipation is to consider the possibility that the participant would continue with the program every year until he/she is 18 years old, thus not allowing for the depreciation of benefits. This leads to an extra cost of program participation, resulting in a new cost of $120 for both boys and girls, and a new net benefit of the program of $11,745 ($10,846) for boys (girls).

 

            In examining the net benefit of the LifeSkills Training program in all the sensitivity analysis, the data indicate that it is highly advantageous and has the potential to yield high benefits.   

 

 

References

 

 

Card, D. (1999). “The Causal Effect of Education on Earnings.” In O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (Eds.), Handbook of Labor Economics, 3: 1801-1863. Amsterdam: North-Holland.

Ericksen, K. and K. Trocki (1994). “Sex, Alcohol and Sexually Transmitted Diseases: A National Survey.” Family Planning Perspectives. 26(6): 257-263.

French, M.,  H. Salome, J. Sindelar, and A. McLellan (2002). “Benefit-Cost Analysis of Addiction Treatment: Methodological Guidelines and Empirical Application Using the DATCAP and ASI.” Health Services Research. 37(2): 433-455.

Griffin, K., G. Botvin, and T. Nichols (2006). “Effects of a School-Based Drug Abuse Prevention Program for Adolescents on HIV Risk Behavior in Young Adulthood.” National Institutes of Health. http://www.wellnessandpreventionoffice.org/LST_other/Effects_Behavior.pdf

Harrison, Nia, Nikola Juris, Dori Stern, and Steven Stern (2008). “Methodology for Youth Development Cost-Benefit Analyses.”  http://www.people.virginia.edu/~sns5r/ccfstf/youthdevmethodology.pdf.

LifeSkills Training (2008). National Health Promotion Associates. http://www.lifeskillstraining.com/index.php

Lynskey, M., C. Coffey, L. Degenhardt, J. Carlin and G. Patton (2003). “A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Adolescent Cannabis Use on High School Completion.” Addiction. 98(5): 685-692.

Task Force on Teen Pregnancy Prevention (1999). A Community Strategic Plan for Preventing Teen Pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. http://people.virginia.edu/~sns5r/teenpregstf/strpln.pdf



[1] Details of Methodology are available at Harrison, Juris, Stern, and Stern (2008).

[2] Think of this as HIV.