Atlantic Economic Journal

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 313–335 | Cite as

Childhood Bullying and Labor Market Outcomes in The United States

  • Swati MukerjeeEmail author


This paper contributes to a nascent economic literature on bullying. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 data, I explored the relationship between childhood bullying and later earnings. Since males and females are usually subject to different kinds of bullying and coping strategies vary with age, I distinguished between pre-teen and teenage bullying by gender. After delineating the pathways by which being bullied could potentially lead to lower earnings, the analysis first considered the probability of being bullied either as a teenager or before the age of 12. Next, after a simple ordinary least squares analysis of a human capital earnings function, a detailed propensity score analysis with multiple matching schemes was undertaken separately for males and females, further subdivided by when bullying had occurred. Results indicated males bullied as teenagers had earnings 23% lower than their non-bullied counterparts. Females did not suffer this penalty, nor did children who were bullied only below the age of 12. However, being bullied in childhood increased significantly the probability of being bullied later. In terms of human capital formation and possible impact on later productivity, teen bullying may be affecting men the most. Current findings may also be useful in encouraging a targeted focus on those who may be in greater danger of being bullied. Children who have changed schools several times, males with a learning disability, or a vision, speech or hearing problem, and females with some kind of deformity would be targeted significantly more.


Childhood bullying Teen bullying Pre-teen bullying Earnings Gender 


J00 J4 



Special thanks go to Karen Conway of UNH, Dhaval Dave of NBER and Bentley University and Stephen Grubaugh of Bentley University for their insightful comments and valuable suggestions. I also want to thank Arun Venugopal for his research assistance.


  1. Andreou, E. (2000). Bully/victim problems and their association with psychological constructs in 8- to 12-year-old Greek schoolchildren. Aggressive Behavior, 26(1), 49–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andreou, E. (2001). Bully/victim problems and their association with coping behaviour in conflictual peer interactions among school-age children. Educational Psychology, 21, 59–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arsenault, L., Bowes, L., & Shakoor, S. (2010). Bullying victimization in youths and mental health problems: ‘Much ado about nothing’? Psychological Medicine, 40, 717–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Austin, S., & Joseph, S. (1996). Assessment of bully/victim problems in 8 to 11 year-olds. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 66(4), 447–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berthold, K. A., & Hoover, J. H. (2000). Correlates of bullying and victimization among intermediate students in the Midwestern USA. School Psychology International, 21(1), 65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bird, G. W., & Harris, R. L. (1990). A comparison of role strain and coping strategies by gender and family structure among early adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 10(2), 141–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boekaerts, M. (1996). Coping with stress in childhood and adolescence. In M. Zeidner & N. S. Endler (Eds.), Handbook of coping: Theory, research, and applications (pp. 452–484). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Bogart, L. M., Elliott, M. N., Klein, D. J., Tortolero, S. R., Mrug, S., Peskin, M. F., Davies, S. L., Schink, E. T., & Schuster, M. A. (2014). Peer victimization in fifth grade and health in tenth grade. Pediatrics, 133(3), 440–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, S., & Taylor, K. (2008). Bullying, education and earnings: Evidence from the National Child Development Study. Economics of Education Review, 27(4), 387–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bureau of Labor Statistics. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 Index to the NLSY97 Cohort. Accessed May 25 2018.
  11. Caliendo, M., & Kopeinig, S. (2008). Some practical guidance for the implementation of propensity score matching. Journal of Economic Surveys, 22(1), 31–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Card, D. (1999). The causal effect of education on earnings. In O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (Eds.), Handbook of labor economics, Chapter 30 (Vol. 3A, pp. 1801–1863). Netherlands: North Holland Publishing.Google Scholar
  13. Carney, A. G., & Merrell, K. W. (2001). Bullying in schools perspectives on understanding and preventing an international problem. School Psychology International, 22(3), 364–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Case, A., Lubotsky, D., & Paxson, C. (2002). Economic status and health in childhood: The origins of the gradient. The American Economic Review, 92(5), 1308–1334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cook, Katherine. 23 January. Is switching schools a solution to bullying? Child. Accessed May 25 2018. Site:
  16. Copeland, E. P., & Hess, R. S. (1995). Differences in young adolescents' coping strategies based on gender and ethnicity. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 15(2), 203–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66(3), 710–722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cutler, D. M., Lleras-Muney, A., and Vogl, T. S. (2011) Socioeconomic status and health: dimensions and mechanisms. In: Glied S, Smith PC (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 124–163.Google Scholar
  19. Dehejia, R. H., & Wahba, S. (2002). Propensity score-matching methods for nonexperimental causal studies. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 84(1), 151–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. DeVoe, J. F., and Kaffenberger, S. (2005). Student reports of bullying: Results from the 2001 school crime supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Statistical analysis report. National Center for Educational Statistics 2005-310. US Department of Education. Accessed May 26 2018.
  21. Dixey, R., Sahota, P., Atwal, S., & Turner, A. (2001). “Ha ha, you’re fat, we’re strong”; a qualitative study of boys’ and girls’ perceptions of fatness, thinness, social pressures and health using focus groups. Health Education, 101(5), 206–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Drydakis, N. (2014). Bullying at school and labour market outcomes. International Journal of Manpower, 35(8), 1185–1211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Duleep, H. O. (1986). Measuring the effect of income on adult mortality using longitudinal administrative record data. Journal of Human Resources, 21, 238–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ericson, N. (2001). Addressing the problem of juvenile bullying. OJJDP Fact Sheet #27. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office Accessed May 26 2018. Scholar
  25. Esbensen, F. A., & Carson, D. C. (2009). Consequences of being bullied: Results from a longitudinal assessment of bullying victimization in a multisite sample of American students. Youth & Society, 41(2), 209–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Eslea, M., & Rees, J. (2001). At what age are children most likely to be bullied at school? Aggressive Behavior, 27(6), 419–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Espelage, D. L., & Swearer, S. M. (2003). Research on school bullying and victimization: What have we learned and where do we go from here? School Psychology Review, 32(3), 365–384.Google Scholar
  28. Frisén, A., Jonsson, A. K., & Persson, C. (2007). Adolescents' perception of bullying: Who is the victim? Who is the bully? What can be done to stop bullying? Adolescence, 42(168), 749.Google Scholar
  29. Frydenberg, E., & Lewis, R. (1991). Adolescent coping: The different ways in which boys and girls cope. Journal of Adolescence, 14(2), 119–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Frydenberg, E., & Lewis, R. (1993). Boys play sport and girls turn to others: Age, gender and ethnicity as determinants of coping. Journal of Adolescence, 16(3), 253–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gladden, R. M., Vivolo-Kantor, A.M., Hamburger, M. E., and Lumpkin, C. D. (2014). Bullying surveillance among youths: Uniform definitions for public health and recommended data elements, version 1.0. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Education.
  32. Gladstone, G. L., Parker, G. B., & Malhi, G. S. (2006). Do bullied children become anxious and depressed adults?: A cross-sectional investigation of the correlates of bullying and anxious depression. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 194(3), 201–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Guo, S., & Fraser, M. W. (2014). Propensity Score Analysis: Statistical methods and applications (Vol. 12). Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  34. Guo, S., Barth, R. P., & Gibbons, C. (2006). Propensity score matching strategies for evaluating substance abuse services for child welfare clients. Children and Youth Services Review, 28(4), 357–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Heckman, J. J., Lochner, L. J., & Todd, P. E. (2006). Earnings functions, rates of return and treatment effects: The mincer equation and beyond. In E. A. Hanushek & F. Welch (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of education, 1 (pp. 307–458). Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  36. Ibáñez, L., Ferrer, A., Marcos, M. V., Hierro, F. R., & de Zegher, F. (2000). Early puberty: Rapid progression and reduced final height in girls with low birth weight. Pediatrics, 106(5), e72–e72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Juvonen, J., Graham, S., & Schuster, M. A. (2003). Bullying among young adolescents: The strong, the weak, and the troubled. Pediatrics, 112(6), 1231–1237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Konishi, C., Hymel, S., Zumbo, B. D., Li, Z., Taki, M., Slee, P., et al. (2009). Investigating the comparability of a self-report measure of childhood bullying across countries. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 24(1), 82–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Le, A. T., Miller, P. W., Heath, A. C., & Martin, N. (2005). Early childhood behaviours, schooling and labour market outcomes: Estimates from a sample of twins. Economics of Education Review, 24(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lindahl, M. (2005). Estimating the effect of income on health and mortality using lottery prizes as an exogenous source of variation in income. Journal of Human Resources, 40(1), 144–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McDonough, P., Duncan, G. J., Williams, D., & House, J. (1997). Income dynamics and adult mortality in the United States, 1972 through 1989. American Journal of Public Health, 87(9), 1476–1483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Menchik, P. L. (1993). Economic status as a determinant of mortality among black and white older men: Does poverty kill? Population Studies, 47(3), 427–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nakamoto, J., & Schwartz, D. (2010). Is peer victimization associated with academic achievement? A meta-analytic review. Social Development, 19(2), 221–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Olweus, D. (1978). Aggression in the schools: Bullies and whipping boys. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
  45. Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Malden MA. Blackwell Publishing., 9–11.Google Scholar
  46. Owens, L., Shute, R., & Slee, P. (2000). “Guess what I just heard!”: Indirect aggression among teenage girls in Australia. Aggressive Behavior, 26(1), 67–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Polachek, S. W., & Siebert, W. S. (1993). The economics of earnings (pp. 71–95). Cambridge: Cambridge University press.Google Scholar
  48. Powell, M. D., & Ladd, L. D. (2010). Bullying: A review of the literature and implications for family therapists. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 38(3), 189–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Puskar, K., & Lamb, J. (1991). Life events, problems, stresses, and coping methods of adolescents. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 12(3), 267–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rigby, K. (2003). Consequences of bullying in schools. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48(9), 583–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Salmon, G., James, A., & Smith, D. M. (1998). Bullying in schools: Self reported anxiety, depression, and self esteem in secondary school children. BMJ, 317(7163), 924–925.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schwartz, D., Gorman, A. H., Nakamoto, J., & Toblin, R. L. (2005). Victimization in the peer group and children's academic functioning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(3), 425–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Slee, P. T., & Rigby, K. (1993). The relationship of Eysenck's personality factors and self-esteem to bully-victim behaviour in Australian schoolboys. Personality and Individual Differences, 14(2), 371–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith, P. K., & Brain, P. (2000). Bullying in schools: Lessons from two. Aggressive Behavior, 26, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith, J. A., & Todd, P. E. (2005). Does matching overcome LaLonde's critique of nonexperimental estimators? Journal of Econometrics, 125(1), 305–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Smith, P. K., Cowie, H., Olafsson, R. F., & Liefooghe, A. P. (2002). Definitions of bullying: A comparison of terms used, and age and gender differences, in a fourteen–country international comparison. Child Development, 73(4), 1119–1133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Smith, P. K., Talamelli, L., Cowie, H., Naylor, P., & Chauhan, P. (2004). Profiles of non-victims, escaped victims, continuing victims and new victims of school bullying. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(4), 565–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stark, L. J., Spirito, A., Williams, C. A., & Guevremont, D. C. (1989). Common problems and coping strategies I: Findings with normal adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 17(2), 203–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2017). The roles kids play in bullying. Web. Last reviewed September 28 2017. Retrieved May 25 2018.
  60. Underwood, M. K., Galenand, B. R., & Paquette, J. A. (2001). Top ten challenges for understanding gender and aggression in children: Why can’t we all just get along? Social Development, 10(2), 248–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. University College London Institute of Education (2018). National Child Development Study. Accessed May 25 2018.
  62. Varhama, L. M., & Björkqvist, K. (2005). Relation between school bullying during adolescence and subsequent long-term unemployment in adulthood in a Finnish sample. Psychological Reports, 96(2), 269–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Waddell, G. R. (2006). Labor-market consequences of poor attitude and low self-esteem in youth. Economic Inquiry, 44(1), 69–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Williams, K., & McGillicuddy-De Lisi, A. (1999). Coping strategies in adolescents. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 20(4), 537–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wolke, D., & Lereya, S. T. (2015). Long-term effects of bullying. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 100(9), 879–885.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wolke, D., & Sapouna, M. (2008). Big men feeling small: Childhood bullying experience, muscle dysmorphia and other mental health problems in bodybuilders. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9(5), 595–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Atlantic Economic Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics DepartmentBentley UniversityWalthamUSA

Personalised recommendations