The average annual income for a high school dropout in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was almost $10,000 less than that for a high school graduate. Raising the numbers of students who graduate, therefore, increases overall earnings potential, which, in turn, benefits each state and the nation with increased purchasing power and higher tax receipts.
"Each class of high school dropouts damages the economy," says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. "If candidates running for federal office are truly committed to saving the nation's economic future, they must commit to saving America's high schools. The best economic stimulus package is to increase the number of students who earn a high school diploma."
The Alliance's updated brief argues that dropouts drain the state and nation's economy by lowering tax revenues and increasing the cost of social programs. High school graduates, on the other hand, make higher wages, are healthier, and live longer. They are less likely to be teen parents, commit crimes, or rely on government assistance.
"The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools" is available at http://www.all4ed.org/files/HighCost.pdf
The projected number of high school students who failed to graduate with their class was calculated using state graduation rate estimates developed by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center (2008), and was multiplied by the $260,000 estimated lifetime earnings difference between a high school dropout and a high school graduate (Rouse 2005).
"The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools" was originally published in 2007 with support from MetLife Foundation.