Women's Economic Returns from Obtainig a GED

Grants and Contracts Details


For high school dropouts, the General Educational Development (GED) test is the primary method of demonstrating academic achievement to prospective employers. Previous research considering how the GED influences employment and earnings focuses primarily on men. Given differences between men and women in labor market experiences and the apparent differences in the return to education and training, it seems likely that the impact of the GED on labor market outcomes will differ by gender. Unfortunately, previous studies examining the effect of the GED on women are all based on two data sets that have important limitations-small sample sizes, no information on test takers who do not pass, and limited information on prior earnings. In contrast this project studies the impact of the GED test on women using data on nearly 30,000 GED test takers along with a long panel of earnings information and data on post-secondary enrollment. These data allow us to compare the outcomes for those who receive a score just above the passing cutoff with those who receive a score just below the cutoff. We also have information on women who drop out of high school and have not taken the GED, so we are able to separately identify how those who have not taken the GED differ from test takers. Using these data we will investigate how the GED facilitates postsecondary education as well as employment and earnings. We also consider whether job mobility can account for the greater labor market success of GED recipients. Finally, we consider the net private and social benefits that accrue from the GED test.
Effective start/end date7/1/0812/31/10


  • Spencer Foundation: $171,000.00


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