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 journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


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
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

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