The Labor Market Returns to Reversing High School Dropout

87 Pages Posted: 10 May 2021

See all articles by Rebecca Brough

Rebecca Brough

University of Notre Dame

David Phillips

Wilson Sheehan Lab for Econonomic Opportunities, Department of Economics

Patrick S Turner

University of Notre Dame - Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, Department of Economics

Date Written: May 6, 2021

Abstract

More than 18 million adults in the United States have no high school credential. The GED is a common remedy but has low returns. Full diplomas for adults might provide an alternative but are often discouraged by public policy. This paper estimates the labor market return to a high school diploma for adults who dropped out of traditional high school. We compare outcome trends for people who graduate from a network of adult high schools to those who apply but do not enroll. Over 5 years, earnings increase by 39% more for graduates, closing about half of the earnings gap between high school graduates and non-graduates. We address selection into graduation by conditioning on 5 years of pre-application earnings trends, comparing to enrolled students who exit due to positive shocks, and using variation in graduation from assignment to remedial coursework. Earnings gains occur alongside increased credentialing and switches from hospitality and temporary jobs to healthcare, which both suggest that human capital accumulation is an important mechanism.

Keywords: high school dropout, high school diploma, returns to education, human capital, GED

JEL Classification: I24, I26, J24

Suggested Citation

Brough, Rebecca and Phillips, David and Turner, Patrick, The Labor Market Returns to Reversing High School Dropout (May 6, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3840453 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3840453

Rebecca Brough

University of Notre Dame ( email )

361 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5646
United States

David Phillips

Wilson Sheehan Lab for Econonomic Opportunities, Department of Economics ( email )

361 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5646
United States

Patrick Turner (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame - Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, Department of Economics ( email )

United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
81
Abstract Views
549
rank
380,996
PlumX Metrics