Opening the black box of school absenteeism: Explaining authorized and unauthorized school absenteeism by parenting styles, adaptation modes, peer influence and absenteeism policies

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This dissertation examines authorized and unauthorized school absenteeism, focusing not only on excessive but also on day-to-day absenteeism. It examines the interplay among four actors: parents, their adolescent children, the peers of these youngsters, and the schools they attend, studying their influence and the effect of their interaction on authorized and unauthorized absenteeism.
The findings show a correlation between both forms of absenteeism. At an individual level, authorized absenteeism predicts unauthorized absenteeism and vice versa, indicating that youths with a strong wish not to attend school resort to both forms of absenteeism. At a class level the influence of peers proved to be the most important predictor for individual behavior. In classes with high authorized absenteeism, the individual youngster tends to be more authorized absent. Similarly, in classes with high unauthorized absenteeism, individual youngsters tend to be more unauthorized absent. The results of the study also highlight the influence of ethnicity and, to a lesser degree, socioeconomic status (SES) on individual absenteeism. Overall, parents with lower SES and a migration background tend to adopt a stricter attitude, reflected by the authoritarian parenting style, towards their children's school attendance compared to parents without a migration background and higher SES. Additionally, the results show that an authoritarian parenting style negatively predicts both forms of absenteeism. It was also possible to categorize schools into clusters based on various compositional variables and the nature of absenteeism policy. The composition of the population of these schools relates to the dominant parenting style within each of the three clusters. For example, schools with a substantial number of students with a migration background and low SES tend to implement a absenteeism policy with features of an authoritarian parenting style.
The findings indicate that absenteeism stems not only from individual traits but also significantly from the social environment, including the school environment and classroom group dynamics. This underlines the complexity of the absenteeism phenomenon. Policy implications suggest an integrated approach addressing both forms of absenteeism, involving parents and schools alike. Recommendations stress the need to redefine school absenteeism policies, to stimulate collaboration between parents and schools, to reflect on school absenteeism within school teams, and to involve parents in absenteeism policies to ensure shared responsibility.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • van der Veen, Romke, Supervisor
  • Braster, Sjaak, Co-supervisor
  • Veld, Theo, Co-supervisor
Award date21 Dec 2023
Place of PublicationRotterdam
Print ISBNs978-90-361-0730-3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2023

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