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

  • James J. Heckman
  • John Eric Humphries
  • Paul A. LaFontaine
  • Pedro L. Rodr�guez

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.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/664924
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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/664924
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 495 - 520

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/664924
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JOLE/

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  1. repec:mpr:mprres:1894 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Lillard, Dean R. & DeCicca, Philip P., 2001. "Higher standards, more dropouts? Evidence within and across time," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 459-473, October.
  3. Donald S. Kenkel & Dean R. Lillard & Alan D. Mathios, 2006. "The Roles of High School Completion and GED Receipt in Smoking and Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11990, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1991. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," NBER Working Papers 3804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. James J. Heckman & Paul LaFontaine, 2006. "Bias Corrected Estimates of GED Returns," NBER Working Papers 12018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robert Kominski, 1990. "Estimating the National High School Dropout Rate," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 303-311, May.
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