Dropouts earn $3,000 less per year: Report

Lack of high school diploma costs society $1.3 billion per year

High school dropouts can expect to earn $3,000 less per year compared to high school graduates, according to a new report.

Cost Estimates of Dropping Out of High School in Canada, commissioned by the Canadian Council on Learning, presents the tangible costs of dropping out of high school as they relate to social assistance, crime, health and labour and employment.

"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, a professor at Simon Fraser University and author of the report author. "This report signifies Canada’s first step in determining what those costs are."

The report found poor health will cost a high school dropout more than $8,000 per year because there are strong associations between education and health across a range of illnesses, including cancer and diabetes.

About 20 per cent of Canadians aged 20 years and over have never completed high school, according to Statistics Canada. And the costs of not completing high school aren't only borne by the individual — but by society as well.

The average public cost of providing social assistance (benefits for food, fuel, shelter and work incentive programs) was estimated at more than $4,000 per year per dropout or $969 million per year.

The annual cost to the criminal justice system is estimated at more than $220 per high school dropout or $350 million per year.

"Directly or indirectly, everyone pays a price when a person drops out of high school," said Paul Cappon, CEO and president of the Canadian Council on Learning.

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