Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/36948
Title: 
Authors: 
Heckman, James Joseph
Humphries, John Eric
Mader, Nicholas S.
Year of Publication: 
2010
Series/Report no.: 
Discussion paper series // Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit 4975
Abstract: 
The General Educational Development (GED) credential is issued on the basis of an eight hour subject-based test. The test claims to establish equivalence between dropouts and traditional high school graduates, opening the door to college and positions in the labor market. In 2008 alone, almost 500,000 dropouts passed the test, amounting to 12% of all high school credentials issued in that year. This chapter reviews the academic literature on the GED, which finds minimal value of the certificate in terms of labor market outcomes and that only a few individuals successfully use it as a path to obtain post-secondary credentials. Although the GED establishes cognitive equivalence on one measure of scholastic aptitude, recipients still face limited opportunity due to deficits in noncognitive skills such as persistence, motivation and reliability. The literature finds that the GED testing program distorts social statistics on high school completion rates, minority graduation gaps, and sources of wage growth. Recent work demonstrates that, through its availability and low cost, the GED also induces some students to drop out of school. The GED program is unique to the United States and Canada, but provides policy insight relevant to any nation's educational context.
Subjects: 
Returns to education
GED
dropouts
graduation rate
noncognitive skills
JEL: 
I21
J24
J31
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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