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The GED

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Author Info

  • Heckman, James J.
  • Humphries, John Eric
  • Mader, Nicholas S.

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.

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Bibliographic Info

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This chapter was published in:

  • Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), 2011. "Handbook of the Economics of Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3, June.
    This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of the Economics of Education with number 3-09.

    Handle: RePEc:eee:educhp:3-09

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page: http://www.elsevierdirect.com/product.jsp?isbn=9780444513991

    Related research

    Keywords: Returns to Education; GED; Dropouts; Graduation Rate; Noncognitive Skills;

    Other versions of this item:

    • Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Mader, Nicholas S., 2010. "The GED," IZA Discussion Papers 4975, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    • James J. Heckman & John Eric Humphries & Nicholas S. Mader, 2010. "The GED," NBER Working Papers 16064, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Find related papers by JEL classification:

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    Cited by:
    1. Bas ter Weel & Lex Borghans (Maastricht University)............ Huub Meijers (Maastricht University), 2013. "The importance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for measuring IQ," CPB Discussion Paper 231, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    2. James J. Heckman & Tim D. Kautz, 2012. "Hard Evidence on Soft Skills," NBER Working Papers 18121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marla McDaniel & Daniel Kuehn, 2013. "What Does a High School Diploma Get You? Employment, Race, and the Transition to Adulthood," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 371-399, December.

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