Why is Dropping Out of High School Bad? Dropouts and Sexual Behavior

D. Mark Anderson, University of Washington
Claus C. Pörtner, University of Washington

People who drop out of high school do substantially worse in many aspects of life. We analyze whether there is a causal effect of dropping out of high school on sexual behavior. Previous studies on the relationship between dropout status and sexual outcomes have not empirically addressed self-selection effects. Using individual fixed effects estimations we find strong evidence that dropping out causes both males and females to be more sexually promiscuous and increases the risk of contracting an STD for females. Furthermore, we present evidence that suggests dropping out has an impact on the make-up of one's social circle and thereby an effect on long-term outcomes. These results point to a previously undocumented benefit of encouraging those at risk to stay in school longer.

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Presented in Poster Session 3