IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Early school leaving by children in out-of-home care: A comparative study of three Nordic countries


  • Kääriälä, Antti
  • Berlin, Marie
  • Lausten, Mette
  • Hiilamo, Heikki
  • Ristikari, Tiina


Previous studies have reported that children and adolescents who have been placed in out-of-home care for the protection of their safety and welfare face considerably high risks for early school leaving. Our study adds to the literature by comparing the association between children's exposure to placement in care and lack of secondary education (i.e. post-compulsory education after age 16) across three Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. We use data from national registers for children born in 1987, following them until age 23. The datasets for Denmark (N = 55,995, of whom 3056 are in care), Finland (N = 58,855, of whom 1884 are in care), and Sweden (N = 100,152, of whom 3209 are in care) cover the entire birth cohort. To estimate and compare country-specific risks, we calculate average marginal effects from binary logistic regression and adjust the effects for birth mother's socio-economic and health-related background. As expected, the results show that in each country, children placed in care had a significantly higher risk for early school leaving. After adjusting for maternal background, young adults who experienced out-of-home care were 24 to 39 percentage points more likely than their peers never in care to have not completed secondary education. Those placed in care for the first time at teenage were the most likely to have low attainment. In Finland and Sweden, children in care had a similar excess risk for early school leaving, whereas in Denmark the risk was higher. We discuss these results and recommend developing effective interventions to improve the educational attainment of children in care. The difference between Denmark and the other two requires further investigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Kääriälä, Antti & Berlin, Marie & Lausten, Mette & Hiilamo, Heikki & Ristikari, Tiina, 2018. "Early school leaving by children in out-of-home care: A comparative study of three Nordic countries," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 186-195.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:93:y:2018:i:c:p:186-195
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.06.007

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Courtney, Mark E. & Hook, Jennifer L., 2017. "The potential educational benefits of extending foster care to young adults: Findings from a natural experiment," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 124-132.
    2. Jackson, Sonia & Cameron, Claire, 2012. "Leaving care: Looking ahead and aiming higher," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1107-1114.
    3. Mehana, Majida & Reynolds, Arthur J., 2004. "School mobility and achievement: a meta-analysis," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 93-119, January.
    4. repec:eee:cysrev:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:107-114 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Forsman, Hilma & Vinnerljung, Bo, 2012. "Interventions aiming to improve school achievements of children in out-of-home care: A scoping review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1084-1091.
    6. Grossman, Michael, 2006. "Education and Nonmarket Outcomes," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    7. Bäckman, Olof & Jakobsen, Vibeke & Lorentzen, Thomas & Österbacka, Eva & Dahl, Espen, 2011. "Dropping out in Scandinavia Social Exclusion and Labour Market Attachment among Upper Secondary School Dropouts in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden," Arbetsrapport 2011:8, Institute for Futures Studies.
    8. repec:eee:cysrev:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:198-220 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Delfabbro, Paul H. & Barber, James G. & Cooper, Lesley, 2002. "Children Entering Out-of-home Care in South Australia: Baseline Analyses for a 3-year Longitudinal Study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(12), pages 917-932, December.
    10. Vinnerljung, Bo & Hjern, Anders, 2011. "Cognitive, educational and self-support outcomes of long-term foster care versus adoption. A Swedish national cohort study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1902-1910, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:cysrev:v:104:y:2019:i:c:10 is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:93:y:2018:i:c:p:186-195. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.