High School Dropouts and Their Classmates

Zitsi Mirakhur, Princeton University

In this paper, I unite two existing bodies of work in American education – the research on the effects of school composition and the and the literature examining the consequences of dropping out of high school – to answer the following question: Do high school dropouts influence the academic outcomes of their schoolmates? In short, I find that they do. More specifically, using data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, I show that, net of individual and other school-based factors, attending a high school with a higher proportion of dropouts decreases the odds of on-time (high school) graduation and college enrollment for students who do go on to earn their diplomas. This finding suggests that the consequences of dropping out are important for more than dropouts themselves and underscores the social reasons we ought to remain concerned about dropout rates across high schools.

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 Presented in Session P8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity