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Do Dropouts Drop Out Too Soon? International Evidence From Changes in School-Leaving Laws

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  • Philip Oreopoulos

Abstract

This paper studies high school dropout behavior by estimating the long-run consequences to leaving school early. I measure these consequences using changes in minimum school leaving ages often introduced to prevent dropping out and compare results across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Students compelled to stay in school experience substantial gains to lifetime wealth, health, and other labor market activities for all three countries, and these results hold up against a wide array of specification checks. I estimate dropping out one year later increases present value income by more than 10 times forgone earnings and more than 2 times the maximum lifetime annual wage. The one-year cost to attending high school would have to be extremely large to offset these gains under a model that views education as an investment. Other, sub-optimal, explanations for why dropouts forgo these benefits are considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Do Dropouts Drop Out Too Soon? International Evidence From Changes in School-Leaving Laws," NBER Working Papers 10155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10155
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    Cited by:

    1. Pekkarinen, Tuomas, 2005. "Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: Evidence on the Role of the Tracking Age from a Finnish Quasi-Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 1897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Leigh, Andrew & Ryan, Chris, 2008. "Estimating returns to education using different natural experiment techniques," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 149-160, April.
    3. David Cutler & Angus Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 97-120, Summer.
    4. Grant Johnston, 2004. "Healthy, wealthy and wise? A review of the wider benefits of education," Treasury Working Paper Series 04/04, New Zealand Treasury.
    5. Andrea Doneschi & Rossana Patron, 2011. "Assessing incentives and risks in training decisions. A methodological note applied to the Uruguayan case," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 1511, Department of Economics - dECON.
    6. Dinand Webbink, 2007. "Returns to University Education: Evidence from a Dutch Institutional Reform," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(293), pages 113-134, February.
    7. Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Till von Wachter, 2008. "Zero Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Germany: Evidence and Interpretation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 592-598, August.
    8. Riddell, W. Craig & Song, Xueda, 2009. "The Causal Effects of Education on Adaptability," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2009-15, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 16 Feb 2009.
    9. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2005. "Happiness Research: State and Prospects," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(2), pages 207-228.
    10. Philip Oreopoulos, 2006. "Estimating Average and Local Average Treatment Effects of Education when Compulsory Schooling Laws Really Matter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 152-175, March.
    11. repec:bla:rdevec:v:21:y:2017:i:2:p:321-352 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page, 2006. "The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 729-760, October.
    13. Bjerk, David, 2012. "Re-examining the impact of dropping out on criminal and labor outcomes in early adulthood," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 110-122.
    14. Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
    15. Andrew Leigh, 2008. "Returns To Education In Australia," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 27(3), pages 233-249, September.
    16. Pillai N., Vijayamohanan & B. P., Asalatha, 2013. "Objectivizing the Subjective: Measuring Subjective Wellbeing," MPRA Paper 45005, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2004. "Reported Subjective Well-Being: A Challenge for Economic Theory and Economic Policy," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 124(2), pages 191-231.
    18. 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.
    19. Sherry Glied & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2008. "Technological innovation and inequality in health," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(3), pages 741-761, August.
    20. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
    21. Kim, Young-Joo, 2016. "The long-run effect of education on obesity in the US," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 100-109.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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