School Dropout and Subsequent Offending: Distinguishing Selection From Causation
Sweeten, Gary Allen
Bushway, Shawn D
Laub, John H
MetadataShow full item record
Past research on the relationship between school dropout and offending is inconclusive. In explaining findings, researchers have focused on strain and control theories, and have been unable to rule out selection effects. A key advance in understanding the effect of high school dropout is disaggregation by reason for dropout. Waves one through five of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 is used to answer the question: Does dropout have a causal impact on offending? Dropouts are divided into four groups depending on reason given for dropout: personal, school, economic and other. Estimation of a random effects model indicates that dropout for school reasons and "other" reasons causes a small temporary increase in the frequency of offending whereas dropout for personal or economic reasons does not affect frequency of offending. It also shows that youths who drop out for school reasons have higher rates of offending across all five waves.