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The determinants of university dropout: A review of the socio-economic literature

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  • Aina, Carmen
  • Baici, Eliana
  • Casalone, Giorgia
  • Pastore, Francesco

Abstract

This article provides a comprehensive review of the socio-economic literature on the student determinants of tertiary education dropout, in order to help research scholars better understand this phenomenon. Empirical findings are framed within a theoretical model that analyzes higher education choices and prospective outcomes in a dynamic setting, where informative issues (emphasized by the economic literature) and relational ones (emphasized by the sociological literature) are crucial to predicting students' achievements. Our review suggests that student university persistence/attrition depends on a mix of individual, institutional, and economic factors, the effects of which on the dropout decision are mediated by a student's ability to integrate into the academic system. Some factors are given, and their effects are valuable only in a descriptive perspective. Others, instead, can be manipulated by the decisionmakers in the tertiary education system and, as such, are more interesting from the policymaker's viewpoint. In particular, all interventions aimed at fulfilling the initial informational gap of students and at improving their integration into academic and social life are key to study success.

Suggested Citation

  • Aina, Carmen & Baici, Eliana & Casalone, Giorgia & Pastore, Francesco, 2022. "The determinants of university dropout: A review of the socio-economic literature," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceps:v:79:y:2022:i:c:s003801212100094x
    DOI: 10.1016/j.seps.2021.101102
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tertiary education; University dropout; Student retention; Student completion; Student success; Human capital theory;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education

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