Eastern Economic Journal

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 370–386

What You Do in High School Matters: High School GPA, Educational Attainment, and Labor Market Earnings as a Young Adult

  • Michael T French
  • Jenny F Homer
  • Ioana Popovici
  • Philip K Robins

DOI: 10.1057/eej.2014.22

Cite this article as:
French, M., Homer, J., Popovici, I. et al. Eastern Econ J (2015) 41: 370. doi:10.1057/eej.2014.22


Using abstracted grades and other data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, we investigate the relationships between cumulative high school grade point average (GPA), educational attainment, and labor market earnings among a sample of young adults (ages 24–34). We estimate several models with an extensive list of control variables and high school fixed effects. Results consistently show that high school GPA is a positive and statistically significant predictor of educational attainment and earnings in adulthood. Moreover, the coefficient estimates are large and economically important for each gender. Interesting and somewhat unexpected findings emerge for race in that, after controlling for innate ability, academic performance, and other economic and demographic variables, African Americans advance further in the formal educational system than their White counterparts. Various sensitivity tests support the stability of the core findings.


Earnings educational attainment high school grades panel data 

JEL Classifications

I2 J24 J31 

Copyright information

© Eastern Economic Association 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael T French
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jenny F Homer
    • 2
  • Ioana Popovici
    • 3
  • Philip K Robins
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  2. 2.Health Economics Research Group, Sociology Research Center, University of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Sociobehavioral and Administrative PharmacyCollege of Pharmacy, Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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