A Public Health Perspective on School Dropout and Adult Outcomes: A Prospective Study of Risk and Protective Factors From Age 5 to 27 Years.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


This study aimed to advance a public health perspective on links between education and health by examining risk and protective factors that might alter the relation between dropping out of high school and subsequent negative outcomes.


A community sample (N = 585) was followed from age 5 to 27 years. Data included self and parent reports, peer sociometric nominations, and observed mother-teen interactions.


High school dropouts were up to four times more likely to experience individual negative outcomes (being arrested, fired, or on government assistance, using illicit substances, having poor health) by age 27 years and 24 times more likely compared to graduates to experience as many as four or more negative outcomes. Links between dropout and negative outcomes were more pronounced for individuals who were in low socioeconomic status families at age 5 years, rejected by elementary school peers, and became parents at a younger age; the dropout effect was decreased for individuals who had been treated for a behavioral, emotional, or drug problem by age 24 years.


Addressing school dropout as a public health problem has the potential to improve the lives of dropouts and reduce societal costs of dropping out.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lansford, JE; Dodge, KA; Pettit, GS; Bates, JE

Published Date

  • June 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 58 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 652 - 658

PubMed ID

  • 27009741

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4877222

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1972

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1054-139X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.01.014


  • eng