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

Michael G. Vaughn, Kevin M. Beaver, Jade Wexler, Matt DeLisi, Gregory J. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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% female, 49% male; 62% Caucasian, 38% 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. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (addhealth@unc.edu). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis. The authors are grateful for support from the Greater Texas Foundation and the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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