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The impact of institutional context, education and labour market policies on early school leaving: a comparative analysis of EU countries

Kristof De Witte, Ides Nicaise, Jeroen Lavrijsen, Georges Van Landeghem, Carl
Lamote, Jan Van Damme


This article presents a comparative analysis of the determinants of early school leaving (ESL) at the country level. We decompose ESL rates into two components: a ‘primary’ rate reflecting unqualified school leaving from initial education, and a second component accounting for early school leavers who participate in training programmes. Both components may be influenced by structural and policy determinants. We examine how the ESL rate is affected by macroeconomic and social context variables such as GDP/capita, growth, poverty, and youth unemployment, as well as system characteristics of the education system (such as legal school leaving age, grade retention, early tracking, and size of vocational education) and the labour market and social protection systems (minimum wages, unemployment insurance).
Keywords: Early School Leaving; Determinants; decomposition
JEL-classification: J23; J24; C23

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