Positive Outcomes from Poor Starts: Predictors of Dropping Back In
Laura Hill, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
Christopher Jepsen, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
Youth who take major missteps while teens often have positive outcomes by their mid-twenties. Using NELS 2000, we provide one of the first longitudinal analyses of well-being for teen mothers and high school dropouts that includes a nationally representative population of Hispanic and Asian youth. Our study examines a host of positive outcomes for teen mothers and high school dropouts and reveals that determinants of positive outcomes vary dramatically by type. For example, we find that educational outcomes are closely related to parental characteristics, whereas individual behavioral variables bear a closer relationship to employment and income outcomes. Delaying age at first intercourse and using birth control are associated with higher chances of achieving positive outcomes, even among those with poor starts. For teens that have eventual positive educational outcomes, it appears to be important to return to schooling within a year or two of dropping out of high school or giving birth.