Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration PhD

First Advisor

Bernard M. Lall

Second Advisor

Richard T. Orrison

Third Advisor

Gary G. Land



This study examined the economic implications of dropping out of high school for African Americans in Benton Harbor, Michigan.


The methodology used in this study is a documentary one. Sources relating to the economic implications of dropping out o f high school among African Americans were studied. The United States 1990 Census o f Population, the National Center for Education Statistics, and local publications provided data for the research.


Dropping out o f high school has definite economic implications for dropouts in Benton Harbor. The estimated number of African American dropouts as of 1990 was a total o f 3,578. Since one dropout loses in excess o f $200,000 over a lifetime (Catterall, 1986), the estimated income loss of Benton Harbor dropouts during their lifetime is $200,000 multiplied by 3,578. This is approximately $715.6 million. The community suffers economic loss because of the multiplier effect which conceptualizes the chain effect of money spent. There is no single factor that explains Benton Harbor students’ decision to drop out. Truancy, lack o f students’ interest, “a revolving superintendency syndrome,” very low MEAP scores, poverty, single parent-female headed families, and high number of welfare recipients, are related to the dropout problem. While students are dropping out, local businesses need workers with proficiencies in reading, writing, computation, and the ability to work with others to contribute to their economic success. Benton Harbor High School recognizes the economic implications o f linking education to work and attempts to prepare its students for the job market through hands on courses at the Benton Harbor Technical Center. The private and social costs o f dropping out are complex and difficult to estimate.


Dropping out of high school has economic implications for the Benton Harbor High School dropout, the community and the nation. It translates into loss of personal income over a lifetime, difficulty o f transition into the job market, unemployment, accessibility mainly to minimum wage jobs, a disparity in income and work-related benefits, a dependency on welfare, among others. Teaching economics to secondary students, with emphasis on staying in school and successfully graduating, can educate students regarding the financial benefits o f staying in school.

Subject Area

High school dropouts--Michigan--Benton Harbor, African Americans--Education (Secondary)--Michigan--Benton Harbor.


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