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Cost Estimates of Dropping Out of High School in Canada

Report commissioned by Canadian Council on Learning stresses importance of decreasing dropout rates

February 4, 2009 Ottawa—A new report commissioned by the Canadian Council on Learning presents the tangible costs of dropping out of high school—related to social assistance, crime, health, and labour and employment.

Report resources

“It is generally accepted that dropping out of high school has negative consequences for the individual and for society; however, few may recognize the full extent to which non-completion can produce significant economic costs,” said Olena Hankivsky, Simon Fraser University professor and report author. “This report signifies Canada’s first step in determining what those costs are.”

Cost Estimates of Dropping Out of High School in Canada provides figures never seen before in Canada. Among annual estimated costs to the state:

  • Social Assistance: The average public cost of providing social assistance (e.g., benefits for food, fuel, shelter, clothing and special needs, as well as work incentive programs) is estimated at over $4,000 per year per high school dropout, or $969 million per year.
  • Crime: The annual cost to the criminal justice system (not only related to incarceration) is estimated at over $220 per high school dropout, or $350 million per year.

Among annual costs to the individual:

  • Health: A high school dropout enjoys fewer years at a reasonable quality of life. This is because there are strong associations between education and health across a range of illnesses (e.g., cancer, diabetes). Combining morbidity and mortality costs, there is an estimated cost to the individual dropout of more than $8,000 per year.
  • Labour and Employment: A high school dropout can expect an income loss of over $3,000 per year, compared to individuals with a high school diploma (and no post-secondary education).

According to Statistics Canada, approximately 20% of Canadians aged 20 years and over have never completed high school. Although Canada has seen recent declines in dropout rates, thousands of young Canadians continue to leave high school every year without a diploma.

“Directly or indirectly, everyone pays a price when a person drops out of high school,” said Dr. Paul Cappon, CEO and President of the Canadian Council on Learning. “The good news is that, as governments continue working to decrease dropout rates and associated costs, and more strategies and programs are implemented in Canada, the economic toll can be significantly reduced. As a result of these activities, those most vulnerable—particularly during these tough economic times—also have a better chance at achieving a more prosperous future.”

To complement Hankivsky’s report, the Canadian Council on Learning has also published a complementary article, "No 'drop' in the bucket: The high costs of dropping out", which highlights successful governmental strategies currently employed throughout Canada. The article can be found in the Lessons in Learning section at www.ccl-cca.ca/lessonsinlearning.

 

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The Canadian Council on Learning is an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded through an agreement with Human Resources and Social Development Canada. Its mandate is to promote and support evidence-based decisions about learning throughout all stages of life, from early childhood through to the senior years.

For more information please contact:

Kelly Ouimet
Senior Communications Specialist
Canadian Council on Learning
613.786.3230 x242

 

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A new report commissioned by the Canadian Council on Learning presents the tangible costs of dropping out of high school—related to social assistance, crime, health, and labour and employment.

Un nouveau rapport commandé par le Conseil canadien sur l’apprentissage présente les coûts réels du décrochage au secondaire sur le plan de l’aide sociale, de la criminalité, de la santé et de l’emploi.