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Juvenile Population Characteristics
Education
Q: Does the high school dropout rate vary by family income?
A: The dropout rate is greater among youth from low-income families than for all other family types.

Percent of youth who dropped out of grades 10-12 in the preceding 12 months by family income, 1975-2009

  Total
Family income
Low income Middle income High income
1975
5.8%
15.7%
6.0%
2.6%
1976
5.9
15.4
6.8
2.1
1977
6.5
15.5
7.6
2.2
1978
6.7
17.4
7.3
3.0
1979
6.7
17.1
6.9
3.6
1980
6.1
15.8
6.4
2.5
1981
5.9
14.4
6.2
2.8
1982
5.5
15.2
5.6
1.8
1983
5.2
10.4
6.0
2.2
1984
5.1
13.9
5.1
1.8
1985
5.2
14.2
5.2
2.1
1986
4.7
10.9
5.1
1.6
1987
4.1
10.3
4.7
1.0
1988
4.8
13.7
4.7
1.3
1989
4.5
10.0
5.0
1.1
1990
4.0
9.5
4.3
1.1
1991
4.0
10.6
4.0
1.0
1992
4.4
10.9
4.4
1.3
1993
4.5
12.3
4.3
1.3
1994
5.3
13.0
5.2
2.1
1995
5.7
13.3
5.7
2.0
1996
5.0
11.1
5.1
2.1
1997
4.6
12.3
4.1
1.8
1998
4.8
12.7
3.8
2.7
1999
5.0
11.0
5.0
2.1
2000
4.8
10.0
5.2
1.6
2001
5.0
10.7
5.4
1.7
2002
3.6
7.7
3.6
1.7
2003
4.0
7.5
4.6
1.4
2004
4.7
10.4
4.6
2.5
2005
3.8
8.9
3.8
1.5
2006
3.8
9.0
3.5
2.0
2007
3.5
8.8
3.5
0.9
2008
3.5
8.7
3.0
2.0
2009
3.4
7.4
3.4
1.4
Note: Low income is defined as the bottom 20% of family incomes for the year, middle is between 20% and 80% of all family incomes, and high is the top 20% of all family incomes.

[ Graph version ]  [ Excel file ]

  • The dropout rate was far lower (1.4%) for youth living in families with incomes in the top one-fifth of all families than for youth living in families with incomes in the bottom one-fifth of all family incomes (7.4%).
  • Between 1975 and 2009, the dropout rate declined by 53% for youth from low-income families, 43% for youth from middle-income families, and 46% for youth from high-income families.
  • Despite the decline in dropouts for youth of all family income types, the disparity in dropout rates between youth from low-income and high-income families have remained relatively constant. Between 1975 and 2009, the dropout rate for youth living in low-income families was on average more than six times the rate for youth living in high-income families.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/population/qa01504.asp?qaDate=2009. Released on March 05, 2012.

Data Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972-2009. [Report no. 2012-006]. [PDF]. Washington, D.C.: 2011.

 

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