The Economic Effects of High School Non-Completion and Disconnected Youth

Author: WestEd

April 5, 2018

The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable has released its new Education Dashboards report, which profiles the estimated lifetime economic losses that result from high school non-completion and youth disconnection in 15 cities and towns across Arizona.  

“The prosperity of Arizona’s cities and towns is dependent, in large part, on youth receiving the education and supports they need to contribute to their communities,” says Paul Koehler, director of the Policy Center at WestEd, a national nonprofit education research, development, and service agency that convenes the Roundtable. “Unfortunately,” Koehler adds, “many youth face diminished prospects for their futures as a result of their academic outcomes. This hurts them as well as the state.”

The report, drawing on input from each mayor in the Roundtable and on data from the Arizona Department of Education and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, uses high-school non-completion and youth disconnection rates to highlight the economic importance of ensuring that young people remain engaged in school and the workforce.

The dashboard’s non-completion rates show the percentage of students in a school cohort who did not graduate on time (that is, within four years). Each young person who does not complete high school represents a potential $498,920 estimated lifetime loss for Arizona due to a combination of effects such as lost earnings, higher rates of criminal activity, increased reliance on government assistance, poorer health outcomes, and lost productivity. Based on the 18,460 non-completers in the class of 2015, the total estimated loss to the state would amount to $9.2 billion.

Disconnected youth—young people aged 16-24 who are neither in school nor working—also have a stark economic impact on their communities. In 2015, there were 830,000 youth aged 16-24 in Arizona. Data suggest that 14.6 percent—or 125,850—of youth in this population were disconnected. At this rate, youth disconnection would result in an estimated lifetime economic loss of $96.4 billion to Arizona.

“School and work are both central to our youth attaining the skills and resources they need to be successful in their lives,” said Koehler. “This report highlights the need for Arizona’s cities and towns to provide all of our young people with those opportunities to brighten their own futures and, in so doing, strengthen the economic development of the state.”

“Helios Education Foundation is proud to partner with WestEd on the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. “The Roundtable is providing opportunities for increased collaboration and partnership among the cities and helping to elevate important educational issues that impact our state.”

Click here to download the report.

Click here to learn more about the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable.


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