Leaving Home in Europe

Publication type

Conference Paper


National Family and Parenting Institute Parliamentary Briefing


Publication date

January 21, 2004


Staying on at school past the minimum leaving age is generally considered to be a 'good thing', being associated with a host of favourable outcomes, including higher earnings, a lower incidence of unemployment, and a more stable domestic situation.

Looked at in a comparative context, Britain does rather badly in this respect, having one of the lowest staying-on rates in Europe: data from the European Community Household Panel show that under 70 per cent of 17-year-olds in the UK are still in education or training, compared with over 80 per cent in most countries, and almost 100 per cent in Finland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The staying-on decision is influenced by several factors, which at a national level include the education and benefit systems as well as cultural factors, and which at an individual level include the state of the local labour market, the young person's school environment and past educational attainment, his or her peer group, and of course, the young person's family.

The primary focus of this paper is the relationship between a young person's family background, and the likelihood that he or she will stay on in school. The cross-national data set which is used contains information on family structure, parents' education and employment, family income, health, housing and measures of deprivation.



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