The Ged

67 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2010 Last revised: 26 Sep 2010

See all articles by James J. Heckman

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

John Eric Humphries

Yale University, Department of Economics

Nicholas Salomon Mader

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2010

Abstract

The General Educational Development (GED) credential is issued on the basis of an eight hour subject-based test. The test claims to establish equivalence between dropouts and traditional high school graduates, opening the door to college and positions in the labor market. In 2008 alone, almost 500,000 dropouts passed the test, amounting to 12% of all high school credentials issued in that year. This chapter reviews the academic literature on the GED, which finds minimal value of the certificate in terms of labor market outcomes and that only a few individuals successfully use it as a path to obtain post-secondary credentials. Although the GED establishes cognitive equivalence on one measure of scholastic aptitude, recipients still face limited opportunity due to deficits in noncognitive skills such as persistence, motivation and reliability. The literature finds that the GED testing program distorts social statistics on high school completion rates, minority graduation gaps, and sources of wage growth. Recent work demonstrates that, through its availability and low cost, the GED also induces some students to drop out of school. The GED program is unique to the United States and Canada, but provides policy insight relevant to any nation's educational context.

Suggested Citation

Heckman, James J. and Humphries, John Eric and Mader, Nicholas Salomon, The Ged (June 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16064. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1620781

James J. Heckman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

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John Eric Humphries

Yale University, Department of Economics ( email )

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Nicholas Salomon Mader

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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