Is There a Second Chance for High-School Dropouts?

School dropouts often face persistent difficulties accessing the labor market, which policies fail to address. Our article contributes to the understanding of these difficulties by focusing on employers’ preferences regarding dropout applicants. In 2018, we sequentially sent more than 10,000 applications to job offers and 10,000 speculative applications in France. By analyzing the differences in callback rates with respect to non-dropouts with a vocational upper-secondary diploma, we -nd that school dropouts who have remained inactive over two years have a signi-cantly smaller chance (two-thirds on average) of being called back.

Job related experience or training leading to a certi-cate boosts dropouts’ chances, reducing by more than half the difference in callback probability, but their chances remain lower than that of non-dropout high school graduates. Only dropouts with both job related experience and training leading to a certi-cate manage to catch up with their non-dropout peers. We con-rm our results through a battery of robustness checks.