Family socioeconomic status and school absenteeism - The role of behavioural and psychosocial dispositions

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Education


Family socioeconomic status (SES) significantly influences children's school attendance, and consequently, educational achievement. Evidence suggests that children from lower SES backgrounds are overrepresented in those absent from school, and this inequality may partly explain the SES-achievement gap. However, we do not fully understand the mechanisms by which family SES influences school absenteeism, a key knowledge for breaking the link between SES and school absence.

This project examines whether psychosocial and behavioural dispositions (e.g., internalising and externalising behaviours) explain the association between family SES and absenteeism in all four UK nations. It will further investigate whether the associations between SES, dispositions, and absenteeism vary across socio-demographic groups (gender, ethnicity). Investigating mechanisms of effect is complex and requires conceptual clarification on the causal model and advanced methods of mediation to address these complexities. Consequently, the study will test competing approaches for understanding the link between SES, dispositions and absenteeism with the view to shedding light on whether analytical strategies influence the interpretation of findings.

Our study will provide much-needed evidence on the mechanisms by which SES leads to school absences among different socio-demographic groups. This will give policymakers and practitioners the necessary information on reducing absenteeism and addressing inequalities in school attendance. It will become clear which interventions can mitigate absenteeism by highlighting the relative importance of different psychosocial and behavioural mediators for socioeconomic inequalities in school absenteeism. The study is timely within the current context of COVID-19 school closures - an enforced period of "absenteeism" for all children, with evidence of increased absenteeism and socioeconomic disparities in absences after schools reopened. Finally, the study hopes to make an important methodological contribution to addressing questions of causal mediation in the social sciences and particularly education.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000681/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2744816 Studentship ES/P000681/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Samara Marta