New research finds that public spending on social safety net programs and on education both independently affect high school graduation rates.

Graduation rates are a key predictor of health and well-being later in life.

For the study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the researchers tested whether public financing for education and social safety net programs that aim to help improve the lives of low-income people affected high school graduation rates over a seven-year period.

The study used data on high school graduation rates from all US public elementary and secondary schools, public spending on safety net programs and education in each state, and characteristics of schools and counties.

The researchers found that high school graduation rates were significantly affected by both social safety net program spending and public education. In addition, these positive impacts are larger for children belonging to historically underserved student groups.

The study’s findings have straightforward implications for improving graduation rates in public schools.

“Assuming the other form of spending remains at average levels, we found that a one percentage point increase in high school graduation rates is associated with an additional investment of $437 per child in social safety net spending or $720 in educational spending,” says coauthor Ignacio Acevedo-Polakovich, an associate professor in the psychology department at Michigan State University.

“Our findings underscore the importance of adequately financing both high-quality public education systems and social safety net programs.”

Read the full article about graduation rates by Kim Ward at Futurity.