Child Health USA 2006
Photographs of children's faces

Population characteristics


As of October 2004, there were approximately 3,766,000 high school dropouts* in the United States. This represents a dropout rate of 10.3 percent. The rate has generally declined over the past several decades; however, 2004 saw the first increase since 1998.

Since 1970, Hispanic students have had the highest dropout rates; the dropout rate among this group was 23.8 percent in 2004. The high Hispanic dropout rate is partly due to the high dropout rate among Hispanics born outside of the United States (38.4 percent). First generation Hispanics, those who were born in the United States but have at least one parent born outside of the country, have a much lower dropout rate (14.7 percent), and the rate among second-generation or more Hispanics, those who were born in the United States to American-born parents, is comparable to that of other racial/ethnic groups (13.7 percent). The dropout rates among non-Hispanic Whites and non-Hispanic Blacks were 6.8 and 11.8 percent, respectively, in 2004.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, high school dropouts are more likely to be unemployed and, when they are employed, earn less than those who completed high school. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, those who did not complete high school report worse health than their peers who did complete high school, regardless of income.

*Status dropouts refers to 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned high school credentials (diploma or equivalent).


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Child Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Child Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.