Dräger, J., Klein, M., & Sosu, M. (2024). The long-term consequences of early school absences for educational attainment and labour market outcomes, British Educational Research Journal, 00, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3992
Abstract: School absences can negatively impact a
child’s schooling, including the loss of teacher-led lessons, peer
interactions, and, ultimately, academic achievement. However, little is
known about the long-term consequences of school absences for overall
educational attainment and labour market outcomes. In this paper, we
used data from the 1970 British Cohort Study to examine long-term
associations between school absences in late childhood and individuals’
educational attainment, social class, unemployment and earnings at age
42 while adjusting for a comprehensive set of confounders. Our findings
show that school absences are associated with lower educational
attainment but are not associated with social class destination except
for increasing the likelihood of being out of the labour force after
adjusting for confounders. Individuals who missed five days of school at
age 10 were 5.2% more likely to have obtained no qualifications and 4.1%
more likely to be out of the labour force. However, we did not find a
significant association between school absences and individuals’
earnings or duration of unemployment. Our findings suggest that the
detrimental consequences of school absences persist beyond schooling
into adulthood. Overall, this study highlights the importance of
addressing school absenteeism to promote educational and labour market
participation over the life course.
Abstract: Most research on the consequences of
school absenteeism has focused on academic achievement but not
post-school outcomes. Using the Scottish Longitudinal Study (n = 2,941),
we investigated the link between overall absences, truancy,
sickness-related absences, and upper secondary school leavers’
post-school destinations. We also examined how upper secondary school
achievement explains these associations. Overall school absences during
the first year of upper secondary schooling decreased the likelihood of
continuing further and higher education, but increased the likelihood of
being employed, or not being in education, employment, or training
(NEET). Sickness absences and truancy also reduced the likelihood of
pursuing further and higher education. Truancy did not significantly
increase the risk of NEET, but sickness absences did. Both absence types
did not significantly influence the likelihood of being employed.
Academic achievement mediated 78%-100% of the link between overall
absences, sickness absences or truancy and entry into further and higher
education versus being employed. While achievement explained 38%–55% of
the link between all absences and further and higher education versus
NEET, it did not explain the link between absences and NEET versus being
employed. The study emphasises the necessity of reducing both unexcused
and excused school absences and mitigating their effects.
Abstract: Studies consistently show detrimental
effects of school absences on pupils’ achievement. However, due to an
accumulation of multiple risks, school absenteeism may be more harmful
to achievement among pupils from lower socioeconomic status (SES). Using
a sample of upper secondary students from the Scottish Longitudinal
Study (n = 3,135), we investigated whether the association between
absences (overall, sickness, and truancy) and achievement in high-stakes
exams varied by family SES dimensions (parental education, class, free
school meal registration, and housing). When considering overall
absences and truancy, results show no statistically significant
differences across SES groups. However, sickness absences were more
harmful to lower than higher SES students’ achievement. Differences
between the most and least disadvantaged groups were found on all SES
dimensions except for parental education.
Abstract: Studies consistently show associations
between school absences and academic achievement. However, questions
remain about whether this link depends on the reason for children’s
absence. Using a sample of the Scottish Longitudinal Study (n = 4,419),
we investigated whether the association between school absenteeism and
achievement in high-stakes exams at the end of compulsory and
postcompulsory schooling varies with the reason for absence. In line
with previous research, our findings show that overall absences are
negatively associated with academic achievement at both school stages.
Likewise, all forms of absences (truancy, sickness absence, exceptional
domestic circumstances, and family holidays) are negatively associated
with achievement at the end of compulsory and postcompulsory schooling.
First difference regressions confirm these negative associations, except
for family holidays. These findings suggest that, in addition to lost
instruction, other mechanisms such as behavioral, health-related, and
psychosocial pathways may account for the association between
absenteeism and achievement. The findings have implications for
designing tailored absenteeism interventions to improve pupils’ academic
Abstract: School absenteeism is detrimental to life
course outcomes and is known to be socioeconomically stratified.
However, the link between socioeconomic status (SES) and school absence
is complex given the multidimensional nature of both family SES (e.g.,
income, education, occupational status) and absenteeism (e.g., truancy,
sickness, suspension). Despite the vast literature on socioeconomic
inequalities in school attendance, no systematic review on SES and
school absenteeism exists. This study systematically reviewed and
provides a narrative synthesis of journal articles (n = 55) published
between 1998 to 2019 on the association between SES dimensions and forms
of absenteeism. The majority of studies from high-income contexts found
an association between SES and absenteeism in the expected direction,
albeit on average with small effect sizes. Studies largely confirmed
these findings among populations at risk of school absence and those
from low- and middle-income countries. There was greater evidence for an
association between absenteeism and SES measured at the family than the
school level. Studies using SES measures of financial resources (e.g.,
free or reduced-price lunch) provided more evidence for this association
than studies measuring sociocultural resources (e.g., parental
education). There is limited evidence that socioeconomic achievement
gaps in absenteeism vary by the reasons for absence. Research on the
mediating pathways between SES and absenteeism is sparse. A key
implication is that attempts to address inequalities in educational
outcomes must include tackling SES gaps in school attendance.
Klein, M., Sosu, E. M., & Dare, S. (2020). Mapping inequalities in school attendance: The relationship between dimensions of socioeconomic status and forms of school absence. Children and Youth Services Review, 118, 105432.
Abstract: In this article, we investigated whether
and to what extent various dimensions of socioeconomic background
(parental education, parental class, free school meal registration,
housing status, and neighbourhood deprivation) predict overall school
absences and different reasons for absenteeism (truancy, sickness,
family holidays and temporary exclusion) among 4,620 secondary school
pupils in Scotland. Students were drawn from a sample of the Scottish
Longitudinal Study comprising linked Census data and administrative
school records. Using fractional logit models and logistic regressions,
we found that all dimensions of socioeconomic background were uniquely
linked to overall absences. Multiple measures of socioeconomic
background were also associated with truancy, sickness-related absence,
and temporary exclusion. Social housing and parental education had the
most pervasive associations with school absences across all forms of
absenteeism. Our findings highlight the need to consider the
multidimensionality of socioeconomic background in policy and research
decisions on school absenteeism. A more explicit focus on narrowing the
socioeconomic gap in absenteeism is required to close the inequality gap
in educational and post-school outcomes.
Jascha Dräger, Markus Klein, Edward Sosu. School absences trajectories and their consequences for educational achievement. Under review. A preprint can be accessed here.
Jascha Dräger, Markus Klein, Edward Sosu. Does the impact of pupil absences depend on their timing?. In progress.
Jascha Dräger, Markus Klein, Edward Sosu. The psychosocial pathways betweeen school absenteeism and academic achievement. In progress.
Jascha Dräger, Markus Klein, Edward Sosu. Socioeconomic status, school absences, and academic achievement - A causal mediation analysis. In progress.
Markus Klein, Edward Sosu, Kenvil Souza, and Samara Marta. A systematic review of interventions to reduce school absences. In progress.