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Poverty, shocks and school disruption episodes among adolescents in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


  • Nina Hunter
  • Julian May


While conventional explanations of drop-out and grade repetition acknowledge the role of socioeconomic factors, this paper uses data collected in a KwaZulu-Natal study of adolescents to investigate the explicit contribution of poverty and shocks to school disruption episodes. The asset-vulnerability framework developed by Moser and others is used to develop a poverty-based theory of school disruption. Evidence against such a theory is also put forward. The results indicate that the poverty-based theory accounts in part for school disruption. Poverty is predictive of school disruption, female adolescents are particularly vulnerable to drop-out episodes, and adolescent pregnancy emerges as an important influence. However, household shocks do not seem to predict school disruption. Programmes that offer incentives for school attendance and improving school quality are put forward as policy options for South Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Nina Hunter & Julian May, 2011. "Poverty, shocks and school disruption episodes among adolescents in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(1), pages 1-17.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:28:y:2011:i:1:p:1-17
    DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2011.545167

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    drop-out; grade repetition; poverty; shocks;


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