The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School: Joblessness and Jailing for High School Dropouts and the High Cost for Taxpayers

by Andrew Sum; Ishwar Khatiwada; Joseph McLaughlin; Sheila Palma

Oct 1, 2009

Dropping out of high school is correlated with lower employment prospects, teen and young adult pregnancy, and incarceration, according to this research paper's data analysis. Breaking down these outcomes by variables such as race, age, gender, and family income, it becomes clear that the problems are most severe among men and African-Americans. Lastly, the researchers present the economic costs to society of this phenomenon.
  • Among 16-24 year-old high school dropouts in 2008, blacks were the group with the lowest employment rate (31 percent).
  • In 2006- 2007, nearly 38 percent of women ages 16 to 24 who lacked a high school diploma were mothers.
  • In 2006-2007, 9.4 percent of 16-24 year-old male high school dropouts were institutionalized on a given day. Considering only black, young, male high school dropouts, the number increased to 22.9 percent.
  • High school dropouts are far more likely to be members of low-income families than are youth with higher levels of educational attainment.
  • The average high school dropout costs $292,000 to taxpayers in lost tax revenues, transfer costs, and incarceration costs.