Researchers say students should stay in school until age 18

January 30, 2013

(—A growing body of research indicates that increasing the minimum school-leaving age to 18 not only increases high-school graduation rates but also significantly improves the life outcomes of students who otherwise would have become dropouts, according to an article in the winter 2013 Issues in Science and Technology.

In the article, authors Derek Messacar and Philip Oreopoulos of the University of Toronto write that high-school dropouts fare much worse than their peers on a wide variety of long-term outcomes. On average, a dropout earns less money, is more likely to be in jail, is less healthy, is less likely to be married, and is less happy than a high-school graduate.

Though the study shows demonstrated improvements with a change in minimum school-leaving age, more effort should also be spent on keeping engaged in school at earlier ages.

"The act of dropping out," Messacar and Oreopoulos write, "must be understood not as a single event but an outcome that begins with school , often long before the dropout finally decides to stop coming to class."

If states invest in effective support programs, they can further increase graduation rates and reduce future costs of enforcing compulsory-schooling policies.

" should be a last resort alongside other policies to promote engagement and foster an environment in which struggling students are encouraged and assisted to complete high ," Messacar and Oreopoulos write.

Also in the winter 2013 Issues, Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars writes about a 21st-century land rush now taking place in which governments and corporations are snapping up huge amounts of precious arable land in food-insecure countries.

Kugelman argues that these deals are often deeply problematic. Two-thirds of large-scale land acquisitions have occurred in countries with serious hunger problems. In some cases, investors are cultivating crops and then immediately exporting them.  The deals have not resulted in benefits for local communities because investors hire few local laborers, transfer few agricultural technologies and sell few harvests to local markets.

Kugelman is not optimistic about halting big land acquisitions, because powerful vested interests are involved. He thus argues that the most practical strategy is to accept the existence of the deals and encourage policy changes that blunt their harmful effects.

Explore further: Study links prevalence of bullying, teasing to high dropout rates

Related Stories

As graduation rates go down, school ratings go up

February 14, 2008

A new study by researchers at Rice University and the University of Texas-Austin finds that Texas' public school accountability system, the model for the national No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), directly contributes to lower ...

Academic probation hits college guys harder

May 13, 2010

Male college students, especially those who had done well in their high-school classes, are much more likely than females to drop out when placed on academic probation after their first year in school, according to a researcher ...

Recommended for you

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jan 30, 2013
Today, children should stay in school until they have a degree.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.