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The Myth of Achievement TestsThe GED and the Role of Character in American Life$
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James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, and Tim Kautz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226100098

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226100128.001.0001

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The Economic and Social Benefits of GED Certification

The Economic and Social Benefits of GED Certification

(p.171) 5 The Economic and Social Benefits of GED Certification
The Myth of Achievement Tests

James J. Heckman

John Eric Humphries

Tim Kautz

University of Chicago Press

This chapter summarizes and extends the literature on the effects of GED certification. It estimates the social and economic benefits of GED certification for numerous adult outcomes using a variety of major data sets and empirical specifications. After controlling for their higher cognitive ability, male GED recipients are nearly indistinguishable from other male dropouts with regard to labor market outcomes including annual earnings, hourly wages, employment, and hours worked. Female GED recipients have higher annual earnings than other dropouts because they are more likely to be employed, not because they earn higher hourly wages. Our analysis shows that female GED recipients are more likely to participate in the labor force compared to other dropouts, but are not more likely to be employed if they do participate in the labor force. This finding is consistent with the interpretation that women who do not plan to work in the future have no incentive to earn a GED. The weight of the evidence supports the interpretation of the estimated GED effect for women as a selection effect. We find little evidence that the economic benefits to the GED increase with work experience. GED recipients and dropouts have very similar hourly wage profiles.

Keywords:   Economic Social Benefits of GED Certification, High School Graduation, Drop Out

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