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Effect of School Dropout on Verbal Ability in Adulthood: A Propensity Score Matching Approach

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 40 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2011 Pages: 197-206
Michael G. Vaughn; Kevin M. Beaver; Jade Wexler; Matt DeLisi; Gregory J. Roberts
Date Published
February 2011
10 pages
This study examined the effect of school dropout on verbal skills in early adulthood.
Compared to high school graduates, adolescents who drop out of school are more likely to have a range of negative outcomes, including lower verbal capacities; however, the true nature of this association is not well-understood. Dropping out of school could have an important effect on reducing verbal skills, or the link between dropping out of school and diminished verbal skills could be a spurious association that is the result of unmeasured confounding variables. The current study tested these two competing perspectives by using propensity-score-matching (PSM) to unpack the association between school dropout and verbal skills among 7,317 respondents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (51 percent female, 49 percent male; 62 percent Caucasian, 38 percent minority). The results of the PSM models indicated a small yet meaningful statistically significant effect of dropout on verbal skills in adulthood even after taking into account a range of confounders. The study concludes by discussing the implications of the results. (Published Abstract) Tables, figure, and references