High school graduates

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Importance of indicator
Highlights and graph
Other studies

High school graduation is the population aged 25 to 29 who have a secondary school diploma or equivalent.

Importance of indicator

For individuals, high school graduation is a measure of educational attainment and socio–economic status. Collectively, the percentage of the population who are high school graduates may be a proxy for conditions that promote or interfere with education. 


Parents' educational attainment and that of their children are strongly linked.  Parents who dropped out of high school were more likely to have children who did the same, compared with parents who graduated.  Factors at play include parental expectations, role modelling, and ability to navigate the educational system.1,2.

The number of siblings has been associated with educational attainment, perhaps because family resources are spread more thinly in a household with more children, making it less likely for each child to have the resources to pursue their education.1,2.

While working a moderate amount while attending school has been shown to be beneficial, working more than 20 hours per week is associated with dropping out1,3. This amount of work may reflect personal priorities or economic necessity. Either way, it likely interferes with completing school assignments.

Secondary students who had few friends planning to undertake postsecondary studies were less likely to pursue further education themselves2.

Assuming family responsibilities at an early age—having a child, forming a conjugal relationship, for example—is associated with lower educational attainment1,2.

People who did not live in an intact family (two-parent, non-step family) were less likely to finish high school1.

Being male and of Aboriginal origin were associated with dropping out of high school2.

Highlights and graph

Time trend



Graph 5.1 - Percentage of population aged 25 to 29 who were high school graduates, Canada, provinces and territories, 1996, 2001 and 2006

  • In 2006, 87% of 25- to 29-year-olds had graduated from high school, up from 72% 10 years earlier.
  • From 1996 to 2006, the percentage of graduates increased in all provinces and territories.
  • Ontario and British Columbia consistently had high proportions of graduates among 25– to 29– year– olds over the 10 year period.
  • Nunavut and the Northwest Territories had low percentages of high school graduates among 25– to 29– year–olds.  The lower percentages may reflect, in part, the inter–provincial/territorial migration of people with high school diplomas or more.


1. Hango D, de Broucker P.  Education-to-Labour Market Pathways of Canadian Youth: Findings from the Youth in Transition Survey. (Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 81-595 No. 054) November 2007.

2. Tomkowicz J, Bushnik T.  Who goes to post-secondary education and when: pathways chosen by 20 year-olds. (Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 81-595 No. 006) July 2003.

3. Bushnik T.  Learning, Earning and Leaving: The Relationship Between Working While in High School and Dropping out. (Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 81-595 No. 004) May 2003.

Other studies

Educational Portrait of Canada, 2006 Census (Statistics Canada, Catalogue 97-560) Ottawa: 2008.

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: