Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 328 – 332
1877-0428 © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Characteristics and causes of school dropout in the countries of the
Tudorel Andreia, Daniel Teodorescub, Bogdan Oanceac*
aThe Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, 6, Romana Square, district 1, 010374, Romania
bInstitutional Research, Emory University, 201 Dowman Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA
The analysis tries to emphasize the differences that exist between EU countries in relation to size of school dropout. Using data
series published by Eurostat we emphasize, on the basis of quantitative methods, the influence of some factors for reducing the
school dropout. For our analysis we used panel data set for EU countries for the period 2000-2009. To achieve the target set by
the Agenda 2020 to reduce the school dropout rate below 10% for the EU countries, active measures in the school system and the
economic and social environment should be taken.
© 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Keywords: school dropout rate, panel data, expenditure on education;
In the European context, reducing the size of early school leaving is a priority. In this context the European
Council intends to reduce the proportion of school dropout by young people below 10%. The European Commission
believes that the phenomenon of early school leaving by young people is the main risk factor in case of
unemployment and the precarious social position.
To describe the extent of the phenomenon of early school leaving by young people at European level we present
below some statistics provided by Eurostat for 2009(Eurostat, 2010):
x 14.4% of young people aged between 18 and 24 years have left secondary or primary education forms. Their
number is about 6 million;
x 17.4% of persons aged between 18 and 24 years have completed only primary school.
At European level Romania is alongside Malta, Portugal and Spain, among countries with the highest school
dropout rate. From this perspective, the development of strategies to prevent and combat early school dropout
should be the priorities for national and local institutions / organizations.
School dropout is a complex phenomenon resulting in economic and social losses involved in the individual,
* Tudorel Andrei. Tel.: +40-723745035; fax: +40 0213308606
E-mail address: oanceab
Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Tudorel Andrei et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 328 – 332
family and local community the person belongs. If the school dropout is a large in a country or a development
region then the consequences of this are most harmful in terms of economic competitiveness and social
environmental degradation. At least of these reasons, in a country in economic difficulty concrete steps should be
taken leading to the reduction and prevention of school dropout.
The objectives of this paper are: to identify characteristics in the European Union states in relation to school
dropout in the school population and the population that followed training programs; to group the countries in the
European Union in relation to early school dropout; to identify factors that generate early school dropout; to
evaluate the consequences of leaving school.
For data sets processing we used the following methods: statistical chart for the presentation of indicators of EU
countries and for Romania compared to EU average; econometric models estimated using panel data (Andrei, 2009).
In this work we used the following data sets: school or training programs dropout rate (index calculated for
women, men and all persons who have undergone training courses); number of students per teacher; the share of
educational expenses in GDP; rate of leaving the formal education system; unemployment rate; the population of the
EU countries. Statistics are recorded annually in the European Union countries for the period 2000-2009. Data series
were processed in Excel and EViews.
School dropout is an important issue for any country. For a country where school dropout rate is lasting, reducing
the size of early school dropout can be achieved only through concerted action by central and local institutions and
civil society. In defining important aspects of public policy to reduce school dropout one should take into account
the economic, social and value system of a country, development region and county.
In this part of the paper we highlight important aspects regarding assessment of early school and training
programs leaving in the countries of the European Union. We try to achieve a grouping of these countries in relation
to the characteristics of the school dropout phenomenon. To achieve this objective we use data sets for assessing the
early school and training programs dropout for female, male and general population.
Figure 1 shows the average school dropout rate in the European Union countries for the period 2004-2009. Based
on this indicator we sorted ordered in ascending order the 27 European Union countries. According to this hierarchy,
the country with the lowest annual average rate of school dropout is Slovenia, with an average rate of 5.2%. The
country with the highest school dropout rate is Malta, with 40.5%. In this ranking, Romania ranks 23 with a rate
drop of 20.6% (Andrei, 2010).
During the period under review, the school dropout rate in Europe has seen a slight decline from 16.5% in 2004
to 14.4% in 2009. In Romania the school dropout rate decreased from 23.3% in 2004 to 19.1% in 2009. In the EU
countries, Romania has one of the high rates of early school dropout (Andrei, 2010). Table 1 shows a grouping of
EU countries in relation to the dropout rate. Distribution of each country in a group is based on the average dropout
rate indicator for the period 2004-2009. For the second group we chose as the upper limit the value of 15.6%
because it is the EU average dropout rate in the analyzed period.
330 Tudorel Andrei et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 328 – 332
Czech Repu blic
Neth erland s
Figure 1. The average school dropout rate for the period 2004-2009, for the EU countries
Table 1. Distribution of EU countries by groups in relation to the size of the school dropout rate
Groups of countries by school dropout rate Countries
Bellow 10% Very low dropout Slovenia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania
(10, 15.6] Low dropout Finland, Austria, Ireland, Hungary, Germany, Belgium,
Denmark, Luxembourg, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Estonia,
(15.6, 20] High dropout Cyprus, Bulgaria, United Kingdom
Over 20% Very high dropout Romania, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Malta
Based on data from the above table make the following comments:
x The highest dropout rate was recorded in three countries: Spain (with values greater than 34% over the period),
Portugal (with values ranging between 31 and 40%) and Malta (with more than 37 % and an average of over
40%). It must be made clear that in Portugal, because of the programs implemented to reduce early school
dropout this rate decreased from 40% in 2004 to less than 32% in 2009;
x Romania is placed among countries with very high school dropout rate. For this country should be noted,
however, the declining value of this indicator. However the indicator value is greater with 30% above the EU
average. The chart in Figure 2 shows the school dropout rate in Romania and the European Union average for the
x Most of the countries in Eastern Europe are positioned in the group of countries with the lowest rate of school
dropout. The exceptions are Hungary and Latvia, which are included among the countries with low dropout,
Bulgaria is a country with high dropout and Romania which is included in the last category of countries with
major problems in relation to school dropout;
x A total of 14 countries are included among those with a low school dropout rate;
x It should be noted that the dropout rate size is much higher in the Southern countries (Malta, Portugal, Spain,
Italy, Greece, Cyprus) compared with those of Northern Europe (Denmark, Sweden, Finland etc.). Under these
conditions, is advisable to take into account the positioning of a country in Northern or Southern countries for the
analysis of the factors causing school dropout.
Dropout of a study program, whether in school or training program, determine losses for both individuals and for
society or community to which he/she belongs. Interruption of studies by a large number of people at a community
level leads to a decrease in economic competitiveness and increase social costs. Tables 2 and 3 shows the average
school and training programs dropout rate for females and males in the European Union countries for the period
Tudorel Andrei et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 328 – 332
Table 2. Grouping of EU countries in relation to the average school and training programs dropout rate for females
Bellow 5% Very low Slovenia and Poland
(5, 10] Low Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland, Lithuania, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Estonia
(10, 15] Moderate Belgium, Latvia, Cyprus, France, Holland, Hungary, Greece, Luxembourg,
Germany and Britain
(15, 20] High Bulgaria, Italy and Romania
Over 20% Very highe Spain, Portugal and Malta
Table 3. Grouping of EU countries in relation to the average school and training programs dropout rate for males
(5, 10] Low Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland and Austria
(10, 15] Moderate Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania and France
(15, 20] High Luxembourg, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Estonia, Bulgaria,
Greece and Latvia
Over 20% Very highe Romania, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Malta
Figure 2. The average school dropout rate in Romania and the EU average for the 2004-2009 period
Using econometric methods we have been identified several factors that contribute to maintaining high levels of
school dropout rate in some countries. In this respect we mention the following:
x number of students per teacher (NEP). Relatively close values of this indicator in the EU countries allow us to
conclude that the average number of students a teacher is not a major factor resulting in a high school dropout
rate. However reducing the number of students in a classroom can contribute to a significant extent to reducing
the size of early school dropout, especially in the countries with high rates of school dropout;
x the share of education spending in GDP (EDGDP). At European level there are large differences between
countries in relation to the percentage of GDP for education.
x unemployment rate. A number of studies point out that interruption of studies to reduce the chance of finding a
job. Equally precarious conditions of a family because of the difficulty of finding a job increases school dropout
rate between the youth.
332 Tudorel Andrei et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 328 – 332
Table 4 shows the regression model used to analyze the characteristics of school dropout at European level in the
2000-2009 period according to the NEP and EDGDP.
Table 4. Parameter estimates of the school dropout model
Explanatory Variables Least squares method Fixed effects method Random effects method
R2 0.97 0.98 0.11
The above results highlight: the negative linear dependence of the dropout rate and EDGDP; the positive linear
dependence between dropout rate and NEP; the differences between EU countries.
At EU countries level there are major differences between countries in relation to school and training programs
dropout rate size. At the level of Spain, Portugal and Malta there is a very high dropout rate. During the period
2000-2009 for Portugal the dropout rate size was mostly over 30%, while Malta has seen values above 50%. In
some countries, like Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia, Finland, Denmark, the values of this index ranged between 5 and
It should be noted the small size of the dropout rate for most countries in Eastern Europe. However, for two
countries in this part of Europe, Romania and Bulgaria (World Bank, 2002), the values of the school dropout rate are
high. The two countries, occupying positions 24 and 22 in the European Union, are classified as countries with a
high school dropout rate.
Another important feature of school dropout rate in the European Union is a continuous decrease in the size of
this phenomenon during the ten years considered. This trend is observed even in the countries with significant
school dropout rates. For example, in 2000 Malta registered a dropout rate of over 56%, but in 2009 the value of this
indicator decreased to 33.6%. A dropout rate of over 10% was registered in Portugal: if the indicator value in 2000
was 36.3%, in 2009 it decreased to 26.1%.
The work related to this paper was supported by the CNCSIS– UEFISCDI project PNII – IDEI ID_1814.
Andrei, T., Teodorescu, D., Stancu, S. Oancea, B.,(2009), Some features of the non-academic behavior in the Romanian Universities, Procedia -
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Andrei, T., Teodorescu,D., Oancea, B., Iacob, A., (2010), Evolution of higher education in Romania during the transition period, Procedia -
Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 9, 963-967.
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