High school seniors and high school dropouts : an evaluation of life cycle bias in the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972

by Frances K. Goldscheider

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The National Longitudinal Study (NLS) of the High School Class of 1972 is a large-scale longitudinal database that provides information on high school students as they move into early adulthood. However, because the NLS refers only to high school seniors (excluding their peers who drop out), the view it furnishes of processes affecting teens as they assume adult roles in the 1970s is potentially biased toward more educated, and hence more successful, members of the cohort. This Note evaluates certain life-cycle dimensions of this potential bias. The analysis is based on the March 1972 Current Population Survey, which enables us to distinguish and compare high school seniors and high school dropouts. The senior year in high school evidently is not too late to begin observation of the major life-cycle events of early adulthood. Staying in school to finish high school is associated with deferring the assumption of other family-related adult roles.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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