RESEARCH HIGHLIGHT: Long-term consequences of school absenteeism by Dr. Arya Ansari

School absenteeism has been shown to have clear, negative educational consequences, but most studies look at the short-term effects on children. There has been little, if any, work examining the links between school absences and longer-term markers of educational and life success. This Crane studypublished in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence in June 2020, fills a gap in the knowledge of the long-term consequences of school absenteeism.

Using data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development researchers examined the consequences of school absenteeism between kindergarten and eighth grade for the behavioral, economic, and educational outcomes of young adults.

There’s this misconception, especially among parents, that it doesn’t matter as much if kids miss school early on – that it only becomes important when they get to middle or high school…This study shows that those early absences do matter, and in ways that many people don’t consider.

Arya Ansari, Crane Faculty Fellow in Ohio State News


Students who were more frequently absent between kindergarten and eighth grade:

– 1 –

Were not found to be more frequently engaged in risky and deviant behaviors nor were they more likely to be engaged in criminal activities in young adulthood.

– 2 –

Were less likely to have voted in the 2012 election.

– 3 –

Described themselves as experiencing greater economic hardship, more likely to receive government assistance, and less likely to be employed in young adulthood.

– 4 –

Were found to do less well in terms of their educational outcomes. Higher rates of absenteeism between kindergarten and eighth grade were linked with a lower high school grade point average, a lower likelihood of graduating from high school, and reports of fewer years of post-secondary education.


Parents/Caregivers: Be aware of the short- and long-term consequences of school absenteeism.

Administrators/Practitioners: Develop intervention and prevention programs that can successfully reduce absenteeism in the first decade of education.