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Second Chance for High-School Dropouts? A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Postsecondary Educational Returns to General Educational Development Certification

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Listed:
  • Christopher Jepsen

    (UCD School of Economics and UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin)

  • Peter Mueser

    (University of Missouri-Columbia)

  • Kenneth Troske

    (University of Kentucky)

Abstract

In this paper, we evaluate the educational returns to General Educational Development (GED) certification using state administrative data. We use fuzzy regression discontinuity (FRD) methods to account for the fact that GED test takers can repeatedly retake the test until they pass it and the fact that test takers have to pass each of five subtests before receiving the GED. We generally find positive effects of the GED on multiple measures of postsecondary education. Although the GED increases the likelihood of postsecondary attendance substantially, the GED impact on overall credits completed is much more modest: The GED causes an average increment of only two credits for men and six credits for women. The effects of the GED on postsecondary awards are inconclusive, likely related to the small percentage of awards received by GED test takers.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201508
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Kautz, Tim (ed.), 2014. "The Myth of Achievement Tests," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226100098, July.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    9. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
    10. Lee, David S. & Card, David, 2008. "Regression discontinuity inference with specification error," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 655-674, February.
    11. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-209, January.
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    1. 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.

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