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Getting to the Bottom of Dropping Out of School by Girls and, especially, Boys

If education is the key to a brighter future, then keeping kids in school is essential. It is obvious, but not always easy. The EU recognises dropping out of school as a "new social risk", a hazard for both growth and cohesion, and has accordingly made reducing it to less than 10% a Europe 2020 priority.

Source: Antonio Diaz

How to get there is the question. Camilla Borgna and Emanuela Struffolino explore the often-considerable difference in the drivers for dropping out of school between boys and girls. Using a sample of 18- to 20-year-olds from Italy’s Participation, Labour and Unemployment Survey (ISFOL-PLUS), they find that girls, who are much less likely to drop out, tend to be more resilient in the face of push factors like poor academic performance than boys. They also find that boys are more susceptible to pull factors, such as employment opportunities in Italy’s highly gender-unequal labour market.

Interestingly, they find that the gender gap is nearly zero among children with highly educated parents. This suggests that policies aimed at reducing boys’ underachievement should focus more on making economic, cultural and social resources available and less on gender itself.