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Taking the Easy Way Out: How the GED Testing Program Induces Students to Drop Out

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  • James J. Heckman
  • John Eric Humphries
  • Paul A. LaFontaine
  • Pedro L. Rodríguez

Abstract

The option to obtain a General Educational Development (GED) certificate changes the incentives facing high school students. This article evaluates the effect of three different GED policy innovations on high school graduation rates. A 6-point decrease in the GED pass rate produced a 1.3-point decline in high school dropout rates. The introduction of a GED certification program in high schools in Oregon produced a 4% decrease in high school graduation rates. Introduction of GED certificates for civilians in California increased the dropout rate by 3 points. The GED program induces students to drop out of high school.

Suggested Citation

  • James J. Heckman & John Eric Humphries & Paul A. LaFontaine & Pedro L. Rodríguez, 2012. "Taking the Easy Way Out: How the GED Testing Program Induces Students to Drop Out," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(3), pages 495-520.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/664924
    DOI: 10.1086/664924
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    1. James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2010. "The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 244-262, May.
    2. Timothy G. Conley & Christopher R. Taber, 2011. "Inference with "Difference in Differences" with a Small Number of Policy Changes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 113-125, February.
    3. James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2006. "Bias-Corrected Estimates of GED Returns," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 661-700, July.
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    8. Cameron, Stephen V & Heckman, James J, 1993. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-47, January.
    9. repec:mpr:mprres:1894 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Heckman, James J. & Urzúa, Sergio, 2010. "Comparing IV with structural models: What simple IV can and cannot identify," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 27-37, May.
    2. Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Mader, Nicholas S., 2011. "The GED," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 9, pages 423-483, Elsevier.
      • James J. Heckman & John Eric Humphries & Nicholas S. Mader, 2010. "The GED," NBER Working Papers 16064, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Mader, Nicholas S., 2010. "The GED," IZA Discussion Papers 4975, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Christopher Jepsen & Peter Mueser & Kenneth Troske, 2016. "Labor Market Returns to the GED Using Regression Discontinuity Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(3), pages 621-649.
    4. Obergruber, Natalie & Zierow, Larissa, 2020. "Students’ behavioural responses to a fallback option - Evidence from introducing interim degrees in german schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    5. Richard Sutch, 2010. "The Unexpected Long-Run Impact of the Minimum Wage: An Educational Cascade," NBER Working Papers 16355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Eduardo Andrade & Luciano De Castro, 2010. "Tougher Educational Exam Leading to Worse Selection," Discussion Papers 1533, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    7. Richard J. Murnane, 2013. "U.S. High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 370-422, June.
    8. Pugatch, Todd, 2012. "Bumpy Rides: School to Work Transitions in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 6305, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Yi-Chun Chen & Siyang Xiong, 2008. "Topologies on Types: Connections," Discussion Papers 1470, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    10. Zuo, Na & Schieffer, Jack & Buck, Steven, 2019. "The effect of the oil and gas boom on schooling decisions in the U.S," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 1-23.
    11. Natalie Obergruber, 2018. "Mikroökonometrische Analyse der individuellen und institutionellen Determinanten von Bildung und Berufswahl," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 80.
    12. Lincove, Jane Arnold & Mata, Catherine & Cortes, Kalena E., 2022. "A Bridge to Graduation: Post-secondary Effects of an Alternative Pathway for Students Who Fail High School Exit Exams," IZA Discussion Papers 15067, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Bernt Bratsberg & Torgeir Nyen & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2019. "Adult Vocational Qualifications Reduce the Social Gradient in Education," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 7(3), pages 95-109.
    14. Eduardo de Carvalho Andrade & Luciano I. de Castro, 2008. "Tougher Educational Exam Leading to Worse Selection," Discussion Papers 1469, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    15. Bridget Terry Long, 2010. "Dropout Prevention and College Prep," NBER Chapters, in: Targeting Investments in Children: Fighting Poverty When Resources are Limited, pages 249-282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Richard Sutch, 2010. "The Unexpected Long-Run Impact of the Minimum Wage: An Educational Cascade," Working Papers 201001, University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2010.
    17. de Carvalho Andrade, Eduardo & de Castro, Luciano I., 2011. "Tougher educational exam leading to worse selection," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), vol. 5, pages 1-24.

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    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis

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