Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The High Costs of High School Drop Outs

For many years criminal justice studies have repeated the grim statistics about the incarceration of African American men. But now an excellent new report by the Center for Labor Market Studies looks at this crisis from a different perspective. The "Consequences of Dropping Out of High School - Joblessness and Jailing for High School Dropouts and the High Cost for Taxpayers" starts with a jaw dropping number- the 22% daily jailing rate for young black men who drop out of high school- and then proceeds to detail stark facts about the labor force participation by high school drop outs. Another dose of harsh reality- young female drop outs were six times as likely to have given birth as their peers who were college students or four year college graduates, and in 2007 8% of all girls aged 16-24 were unmarried mothers. One more statistic to bring the point home- young high school drop outs, male and female, were 63% more likely to end up in a jail, prison or juvenile detention facility than their peers with a college degree.

Why should policymakers care? In addition to the societal costs in this generation and the next as these high school drop outs raise their children in poverty, the fiscal costs are staggering: " The average high school dropout will cost taxpayers over $292,000 in lower tax revenues, higher cash and in-kind transfer costs, and imposed incarceration costs relative to an average high school graduate."

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