GEDs for Teenagers: Are There Unintended Consequences?

Research Report

GEDs for Teenagers: Are There Unintended Consequences?

November 26, 1999


The GED program has expanded greatly since its start during World War II. Today almost one-half million people receive new GEDs each year and about 200,000 of these recipients are under the age of 20. GEDs as a fraction of all high school credentials received by teenagers have more than doubled since 1978. This pattern has sparked growing interest in estimating the costs and benefits of the GED program. In this paper I focus on one potential cost of the GED program, the degree to which it encourages dropping out of high school. In particular I present estimates of the degree to which teenage GED rates and policies are associated with high school continuation by age, state, and year (from 1978 to 1997), controlling for age, state, and year fixed effects. Data on GED policies are obtained directly from the GED testing service (GEDTS), while high school continuation ratios are obtained from the Common Core of Data (CCD).

To reuse content from Urban Institute, visit, search for the publications, choose from a list of licenses, and complete the transaction.