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Is the GED an Effective Route to Postsecondary Education for School Dropouts?

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  • John H. Tyler
  • Magnus Lofstrom

Abstract

We use data from the Texas Schools Microdata Panel (TSMP) to examine the extent to which dropouts use the GED as a route to post-secondary education. The paper develops a model pointing out the potential biases in estimating the effects of taking the "GED path" to postsecondary education. Lacking suitable instruments that would allow us to directly address potential biases, our approach is to base our estimates on a set of academically "at risk" students who are very similar in the 8th grade. We observe that the eventual high school graduates in this group have much better postsecondary education outcomes than do the similar at-risk 8th graders who dropped out and obtained a GED. Our model explains the observed differences, and allows for a discussion of the policy challenges inherent in improving the postsecondary outcomes of dropouts.

Suggested Citation

  • John H. Tyler & Magnus Lofstrom, 2008. "Is the GED an Effective Route to Postsecondary Education for School Dropouts?," NBER Working Papers 13816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13816
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & John H. Tyler, 2000. "Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED? Evidence from High School and Beyond," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 23-37, February.
    2. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Kathryn Parker Boudett, 1997. "Does Acquisition of a GED Lead to More Training, Post-Secondary Education, and Military Service for School Dropouts?," NBER Working Papers 5992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Brian A. Jacob, 2002. "Where the boys aren't: Non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education," NBER Working Papers 8964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. John H. Tyler, 2004. "Does the G.E.D. Improve Earnings? Estimates from a Sample of Both Successful and Unsuccessful G.E.D. Candidates," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(4), pages 579-598, July.
    5. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Kathryn Parker Boudett, 1997. "Does a Ged Lead to More Training, Post-Secondary Education, and Military Service for School Dropouts?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(1), pages 100-116, October.
    6. Tyler, John H. & Murnane, Richard J. & Willett, John B., 2003. "Who benefits from a GED? Evidence for females from High School and Beyond," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 237-247, June.
    7. Jacob, Brian A., 2002. "Where the boys aren't: non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 589-598, December.
    8. Tyler, John & Lofstrom, Magnus, 2010. "Is the GED an effective route to postsecondary education for school dropouts?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 813-825, October.
    9. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Kathryn Parker Boudett, 1999. "Do Male Dropouts Benefit from Obtaining a GED, Postsecondary Education, and Training?," Evaluation Review, , vol. 23(5), pages 475-503, October.
    10. John H. Tyler & Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett, 2000. "Estimating the Labor Market Signaling Value of the GED," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 431-468.
    11. Kane, Thomas J & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 600-614, June.
    12. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher Jepsen & Peter Mueser & Kenneth Troske, 2017. "Second Chance for High School Dropouts? A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Postsecondary Educational Returns to the GED," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(S1), pages 273-304.
    2. Tyler, John & Lofstrom, Magnus, 2010. "Is the GED an effective route to postsecondary education for school dropouts?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 813-825, October.
    3. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education,, Elsevier.
    4. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/6648 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Helen Lee & Sarah Shea Crowne & Melanie Estarziau & Keith Kranker & Charles Michalopoulos & Anne Warren & Tod Mijanovich & Jill H. Filene & Anne Duggan & Virginia Knox, "undated". "The Effects of Home Visiting on Prenatal Health, Birth Outcomes, and Health Care Use in the First Year of Life: Final Implementation and Impact Findings from the Mother and Infant Home Visiting Progra," Mathematica Policy Research Reports a9626a8d90bf4f01811d0c9d7, Mathematica Policy Research.
    6. Christopher Jepsen & Peter Mueser & Kenneth Troske, 2015. "Second Chance for High-School Dropouts? A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Postsecondary Educational Returns to General Educational Development Certification," Working Papers 201508, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    7. Lofstrom, Magnus, 2007. "Why Are Hispanic and African-American Dropout Rates So High?," IZA Discussion Papers 3265, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Anna Zajacova & Bethany G. Everett, 2014. "The Nonequivalent Health of High School Equivalents," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(1), pages 221-238, March.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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