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U.S. Economy Could Have Gained Over $319 Billion if all Students Who Entered High School in 2004 Had Graduated on Time, According to Alliance for Excellent Education

Press Release:

U.S. Economy Could Have Gained Over $319 Billion if all Students Who Entered High School in 2004 Had Graduated on Time, According to Alliance for Excellent Education

If the high school dropouts from the Class of 2008 had instead earned diplomas along with their classmates, the nation’s economy could have benefited from an additional $319 billion in wages, taxes, and productivity over these students’ lifetimes, according to conservative calculations by the Alliance for Excellent Education in its updated brief The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools.

The average annual income for a high school dropout in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was almost $10,000 less than 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 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 here

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.

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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life.

For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit www.all4ed.com

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