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Economic Journal

The Long-term Effects of Student Absence: Evidence from Sweden

Journal Article
Cattan, Sarah, Daniel A. Kamhöfer, Martin Karlsson and Therese Nilsson (2023). “The Long-term Effects of Student Absence: Evidence from Sweden”. Economic Journal 133(650), 888–903.

Sarah Cattan, Daniel A. Kamhöfer, Martin Karlsson, Therese Nilsson

Despite the relatively uncontested importance of promoting school attendance in the policy arena, little evidence exists on the causal effect of school absence on long-run outcomes. We address this question by combining historical and administrative records for cohorts of Swedish individuals born in the 1930s. We find that elementary school absence significantly reduces contemporaneous academic performance, final educational attainment and labor income throughout the life-cycle. The findings are consistent with a dynamic model of human capital formation, whereby absence causes small immediate learning losses, which cumulate to larger human capital losses over time and lead to worse labor market performance.