Monday, May 17, 2010

Hispanics, High School Dropouts and the GED

by Richard Fry, Senior Research Associate, Pew Hispanic Center

Just one-in-ten Hispanic high school drop-outs has a General Educational Development (GED) credential, widely regarded as the best "second chance" pathway to college, vocational training and military service for adults who do not graduate high school. By contrast, two-in-ten black high school drop-outs and three-in-ten white high school drop-outs has a GED, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of newly-available educational attainment data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey.

The relatively low level of GED credentialing among Hispanic high school drop-outs is especially notable because Hispanics have a much higher high school drop-out rate than do blacks or whites. Some 41% of Hispanic adults age 20 and older in the United States do not have a regular high school diploma, compared with 23% of black adults and 14% of white adults.

Among Hispanics, there are significant differences between the foreign born and the native born in high school diploma attainment rates and GED credentialing rates. Some 52% of foreign-born Latino adults are high school drop-outs, compared with 25% of the native born. And among Hispanic drop-outs, some 21% of the native born have a GED, compared with just 5% of the foreign born.

This Pew Hispanic Center report also analyzes labor market outcomes of Hispanic adults based on whether they dropped out of high school and lack a GED; have a GED; or obtained at least a regular high school diploma. Among its key findings:

As of 2008, Hispanic adults with a GED had a higher unemployment rate than Hispanic adults with a high school diploma - 9% versus 7%.
However, Hispanic full-time, full-year workers with a GED had about the same mean annual earnings ($33,504) as Hispanics full-time, full-year workers with a high school diploma ($32,972).

Other Resources

National Center for Education Statistics. 2009a. High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2007. September. NCES 2009-064. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2010. Employment Experience of Youth: Results from a Longitudinal Survey News Release. January 28. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Heckman, James J., and Paul A. LaFontaine. 2007. The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels. December. Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) Discussion Paper No. 3216.

Fry, Richard. 2009. The Changing Pathways of Hispanic Youths Into Adulthood. October. Washington, D.C.: Pew Hispanic Center.

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