Mapping inequalities in school attendance: the relationship between dimensions of socioeconomic status and forms of school absence

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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 neighborhood 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105432
Number of pages12
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date2 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020


  • socio-economic deprivation
  • truancy
  • absenteeism
  • socioeconomic gap

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