The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Longer Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1845 Words
Date:  2022-05-17

Is there an economic standpoint in favor of letting teenagers sleep longer? Dr. Aaron Edward Carroll, the author of The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Longer (2017), certainly claims so. Carroll is an American pediatric doctor and is also a pediatrics professor at Indiana University School of Medicine. In addition to being the Vice Chair for Health Policy and Outcomes Research, Carroll is also the Director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research at Indiana University. In his article, Carroll (2017) makes the economic case in favor of letting teenagers sleep a little longer; in paragraph 3, he clarifies that teenagers are not getting enough sleep during the night and thus school start times must be delayed. Carroll explains that lack of sufficient sleep in adolescent children is correlated with numerous adverse consequences ranging from poor mental and physical health to behavioral problems and poor academic performance. "More than 90 percent of high schools and more than 80 percent of middle schools start before 8:30 am," maintains Carroll. As a result, the majority of high-school students do not get an adequate amount of sleep. Accordingly, Carroll proposes the delaying of school start times as an alternative school start time policy in order to address the problem of insufficient sleep in adolescents, as well as the correlative problems including, academic performance, unsavory behavior, and declined health (both mental and physical). Furthermore, Carroll claims that delaying school start times will result in a significant economic benefit in the ensuing years to come. In fact, according to Carroll (2017), there exists an economic benefit in the number of billions of dollars to reap by merely pushing school start times and allowing students to gain a little more sleep. In his article, Carroll's logos is simple: allowing students to sleep longer proposes numerous benefits, so school start times should be pushed since research has determined that students will go to sleep at the same time irrespective of school start time. Further, Carroll's pathos is tied to his logos wherein it follows that lack of sufficient sleep is to blame for significant problems such as obesity and depression. In terms of Carroll's ethos, one's immediate impression is that he maintains authority on the subject is given that he is both a medical and academic doctor of pediatrics, however, that does not mean he is an authority on the matter of economics. Thus, because the purpose of this article is that of convincing school policymakers of the economic benefits of allowing students more sleep time by way of delaying school start times, the credibility, accuracy, and adequacy of the article must be established in order to determine its success.

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The Oxford English Dictionary (2018) defines credibility as "the quality of being trusted and believed in" or "the quality of being convincing or believable." However, according to Metzger and Flanagin (2013), credibility extends beyond mere trustworthiness and includes a second key component: expertise. A simple search of the author, Aaron Carroll, establishes him as an authority on the subject matter of pediatric needs. Therefore, the credibility of Carroll's proposed notion that teenagers need more sleep than they are getting is inherently established in his professional background. Further, Carroll maintains his credibility in the claims that there are consequences on teenager's mental and physical health that arise from lack of sufficient sleep. Thus, Carroll is well versed and credible, in the subject matter, he is discussing. Nonetheless, Carroll references other established entities to support his claims. For example, "The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that teenagers get between nine and 10 hours of sleep," states Carroll (2017, para. 3).

Nowhere in his background does it state that Carroll has any expertise in the realm of student sleep behaviors, nor in that of economics. So, Carroll relies on ethos to better cement the credibility of his article. Hence, Carroll utilizes the expertise of analysts and researchers in both fields to ensure the credibility of his claims and in conjunction, his article. For instance, Carroll cites a systematic review conducted by Minges and Redeker to refute the supposition that delaying school start times would result in students staying up later; Carroll (2017, para. 7) states that "research doesn't support that idea. A systematic review published a year ago examined how school start delays affect students' sleep and other outcomes." With regards to economic projections, Carroll refers experts in the field such as the RAND Corporation and uses the analyses they have provided on the matter. Thus, using ethos, Carroll successfully establishes the credibility of his article.

Accuracy, as defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary (2018), is correctness and the exactness of a given entity. Though Carroll uses pathos when mentioning his personal experience with his son in his article, to achieve accuracy he uses a variety of logos. Moreover, the use of logos was placed strategically, as it often refuted any counterargument in the wake of the matter. For example, when discussing the potential cost of delaying school start times, the writer mentions that such a change would be costly when it comes to transportation, based on a Bookings Institute Policy Brief investigation. Though this same investigation would propose an ultimate benefit, the writer's use of logos lies more in the detail conclusion of the refutation to the counter-argument: "They found that delaying school start times to 8:30 or later would contribute $83 billion to the economy within a decade." (Carroll, 2017, para. 12). Thus, in due time, the gain far outweighs the loss. Further, in his successful bid for accuracy, Carroll mentions the immediate implications of instilling such a policy modification. In paragraph 13, Carroll provides somewhat of a disclaimer; he states that in the immediate year following such a policy change, there would be no monetary benefits. In fact, there would be a loss. However, by the second year of implementation, the monetary gain immediately displaces the loss (Carroll, 2017).

In addition to his use of logos, Carroll goes a step beyond the data provided in the cited analysis by considering the further cost to parents. This is another use of pathos, however, in this case, it is used to further the accuracy of his article by considering all aspects as he arrives at his conclusion. The intriguing point to be made is that this use of pathos contributes to the ultimate use of logos, as Carroll uses logic to make his point ultimately:

We'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge other potential costs not included in this calculation, including parental difficulty in adapting to later school start times. But even in a model where the per-student, per-year cost was increased to $500, which would compensate most parents for delays, and where the upfront per school cost was increased to $330,000, the economic benefits to society would still outweigh the costs in the long run. (2017, para. 15)

Thus, the accuracy of the proposed argument is achieved by way of a combined effort from the use of both pathos and logos. Moreover, it is achieved by including all the various components that contribute to the subject of the economic impact of delaying school start times, be they positive or negative.

Carroll claims that there is a problem with the amount of time teenage students are provided to sleep. Further, he states that this problem lies in the start time of schools. Sleepy teenagers have been an issue for countless teachers and schools alike for an undetermined amount of years (Wheaton, Chapman, Croft, 2016). Furthermore, insufficient sleep in adolescents has been established as detrimental in numerous ways (Ibid.). Thus, devising a solution to the problem is necessary, and according to several researchers simple: push back school start times and allow students more sleep time. Accordingly, Carroll's claims ring true. However, Carroll maintains that even though there is an economic stake to be claimed in pushing school start times, schools have yet to agree to make a change in policy. One can immediately agree with such a claim as although there is evidence in the literature to support such a policy change, there is significant opposition when it comes to practice (Picchi, 2017), even though the implications favoring this change in policy extend beyond the immediate benefits of allowing students more sleep time. In fact, the benefits reach that of improving the United States Economy albeit within two years (Owens, Drobnich, Baylor, Lewin, 2014). According to the Washington Post (2017), allowing teenagers more sleep time will result in saving the country roughly 9 billion dollars a year. The author also states that the benefits of implementing such a policy change may be conservative as they do not consider all the avenues for monetary gain. He states that such benefits can be derived from improved suicide, depression, obesity, and health rates. Though qualitative researchers criticize the quantification of insightful data (Ward, 2007), when establishing accurate quantitative findings, qualitative data must not be neglected. Further, it is highly unlikely that policymakers will invoke change when qualitative data are presented as mere fact; qualitative data must be quantified (Green, 2001). Thus, not only is Carroll's claim correct, in that the ignorance of real-life benefits, such as reduced rates of depression and suicide (etc.), leads to a conservative calculation of the monetary gain, but it demands for such information to be translated into qualitative data because this is the best way to promote a response from policymakers and changers (Ibid.).

Carroll's article is adequate in its manner of presenting the main topic of discussion. As an individual reading the articles, one can easily conceptualize the idea that was being presented by the author. This is attributed to the chronological arrangement and the interconnection of each point. The credibility of the article is boosted with the citation of various research outcome. The presentation of research from reputable institution boosts the confidence of the readers in the information presented by Carroll. Furthermore, the inductive reasoning by the author as seen in his attempt to justify the need to delay the start time for schools by using his son as an example has excellently portrayed the routine of students in general and how changing the sleep duration can be helpful to them.


Thus, The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Later by Aaron Edward Carroll (2017), proves to be both credible and accurate. In its establishment as credible, the use of ethos can be identified; Carroll relies both on his expertise in the field of pediatric sciences, as well as on the expertise of organizations and institutions in the realm. Further, Carroll utilizes experts in the field of economics to make his economic case in favor of his proposition, thus maintaining the credibility of the article. However, it is through logos primarily, and pathos marginally that Carroll maintains accuracy. He systematically provides counterarguments to his claims and then logically refutes them. Further, he opens with his own experiences and begins to conclude by addressing the common parent's concerns. Based on personal reflection, one can agree that the benefits are profound. As a teenager, not so long ago, waking early and performing well posed a challenge. However, on occasions wherein I was allowed to sleep in for any given reason, I was more alert throughout the...

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The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Longer Essay. (2022, May 17). Retrieved from

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