Gen Xers Had High College Dropout Rates. Maybe It Was Due to . . .

A few years ago, a team of researchers published a paper documenting a decline in college completion rates between 1970 and 1990. A few days ago, a different team of researchers published a paper documenting a subsequent increase from 1990 to 2010. Neither team had a very persuasive explanation for this phenomenon, which prompted a reader to wonder if the culprit could be lead poisoning. I figured I was game to take a look, and it turns out the answer might be yes:

As usual, the lead levels are lagged 20 years. For example, kids who were born in 1950 went to college in 1970, so we want to compare lead levels in 1950 with college dropout rates in 1970.

This chart doesn’t prove anything, but it’s a surprisingly close fit. And lead is a perfectly plausible candidate since it’s known to reduce both academic performance and the ability to focus for extended periods. So in addition to all the other stuff lead is responsible for, it might also be responsible for an increase in college dropout rates among Gen Xers.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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