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Does the Dropout Age Matter? How Mandatory Schooling Laws Impact High School Completion and School Choice

Author: JENNIE W. WENGER
Published in PFM, Vol. 2 No. 4

This paper examines the role of states’ mandatory schooling ages
using the High School and Beyond data set merged with various state-level
data sources. After controlling for potential endogeneity of the state
mandatory schooling age, I find that a higher mandatory schooling age
significantly increases the probability that a public school student will
complete high school, as well as the probability the student will choose to
attend a public school rather than a private school. Thus, a state’s
mandatory schooling age affects educational attainment. Additionally, by
influencing the public - private school decision, a change in a state’s
mandatory schooling laws will affect the results of any school choice
experiment.

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