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Dropouts cost us $1.3 billion a year

February 19, 2009

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SFU researcher Olena Hankivsky estimates that high school dropouts cost Canada’s social and criminal justice systems more than $1.3 billion a year.

In a new study funded by the Canada Council on Learning, Hankivsky found that the federal government could save $963 million in social assistance and $300 million in criminal justice costs if every high school dropout graduated.

According to 2001 Statistics Canada estimates, 2,944,235 adult Canadians never completed high school.
"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," says Hankivsky, an associate professor of public policy. "This report signifies Canada’s first step in determining what those costs are."

The study found social assistance programs could save $4,230 per additional high school grad in food, shelter, clothing and employment incentives, while criminal justice spending would decline by about $220 per grad.

Hankivsky notes that some of the study’s calculations are based on government statistics not meant to be used in costing studies so she had to make a number of assumptions to come up with her final calculations. But she says, "despite the data gaps, these findings reveal the negative repercussions to the country’s economic, social and civic fabric that result from inadequate educational attainment; and underscore the need for comprehensive, proactive solutions." More: http://tinyurl.com/c4jub8.

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