It turns out that the greatest difference in earnings across years of schooling is between those pupils with only a Grade 11 and those with a Grade 12 qualification. In fact, your salary nearly doubles if you have the matric certificate compared with what a Grade 11 will earn.

It is strange, but clearly matriculation signals something powerful in the market that brings considerable benefit to the person who successfully completes high school. This is a huge motivation to get more pupils to finish high school, given that slightly more than half of those who started in Grade 2 will eventually drop out of school, especially at or around Grade 10.

From a policy point of view this is a priority: ensure more children complete grade school. The straightforward economic benefits to individuals and, by extension, their families, are not inconsequential.

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

We have several subscription options to help you enjoy the best of our content every day, including exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data and full digital access to The Wall Street Journal.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.