You are here:

The early employment and further education experiences of high school dropouts: a comparative study of the United States and Australia


Economics of Education Review Volume 22, Number 4, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


It is widely recognized that high school dropouts, or early school leavers, often experience difficulty in making the transition from school to productive activities in adulthood, particularly post-school education, training, and employment. This study examines the experiences of high school dropouts from the United States and Australia in the first two years beyond high school. Unlike most studies of school dropouts, wc define a school dropout as any student who ever quit high school. By defining school dropouts in this way, we are able to examine not only which students quit high school, but which ones ultimately return and complete high school by earning a regular high school diploma or a high school equivalency. In the United States, at least, a high proportion of high school dropouts ultimately complete secondary school. We go on to compare the post-school education, training and employment experiences of school dropouts who complete high school with those who do not complete high school as well as with high school graduates who never quit school. Our analysis reveals substantial differences in the post-school education and employment experiences of these groups, with school dropouts experiencing much longer periods where they are neither employed nor in post-school education or training. It also reveals differences in the experiences of dropouts in the US compared to those in Australia, with dropouts in Australia more likely to participate in post-school education and training and more likely to settle into productive employment within the first two years of high school. This suggests that dropouts in the US are at a relatively larger disadvantage compared to high school graduates in Australia.


Rumberger, R.W. & Lamb, S.P. (2003). The early employment and further education experiences of high school dropouts: a comparative study of the United States and Australia. Economics of Education Review, 22(4), 353-366. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved March 25, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on March 1, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

Full text is availabe on Science Direct:



View References & Citations Map

These references have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. Signed in users can suggest corrections to these mistakes.

Suggest Corrections to References