An Overview of School Dropout in Central America: Unresolved Issues and New Challenges for Education Progress

Melissa A. Adelman, Miguel Székely

APA 6th edition
Adelman, M.A., & Székely, M. (2017). An Overview of School Dropout in Central America: Unresolved Issues and New Challenges for Education Progress. European Journal of Educational Research, 6(3), 235-259. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.6.3.235

Adelman M.A., and Székely M. 2017 'An Overview of School Dropout in Central America: Unresolved Issues and New Challenges for Education Progress', European Journal of Educational Research , vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 235-259. Available from:

Chicago 16th edition
Adelman, Melissa A. and Székely, Miguel . "An Overview of School Dropout in Central America: Unresolved Issues and New Challenges for Education Progress". (2017)European Journal of Educational Research 6, no. 3(2017): 235-259. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.6.3.235


School dropout is a growing concern in Central America, and in Latin America as a whole, because of its consequences for economic productivity, the inclusiveness of growth, social cohesion, and increasing youth risks. This paper utilizes more than two decades of household survey data to construct a systematic overview of school dropout at the primary and secondary levels in Central America, focusing on recent trends in dropout patterns and their underlying causes. Within each country, poverty, rurality, and indigenous group membership are the strongest correlates of dropout, reflecting several underlying factors that affect the marginal benefits and costs of staying in school.  Global and regional evidence increasingly points to common policy priorities for reducing dropout across Central America, including addressing remaining gaps in access at the pre-primary and secondary levels, improving the quality of education at all levels, and strengthening the coverage, targeting, and coherence of existing programs aimed at improving education outcomes.  However, additional rigorous evaluations, including cost data, are needed to identify the most effective specific approaches in each country.

JEL Classification: I2, I24, I25, I26, I28, O15

Keywords: Dropout, educational attainment, secondary education, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Central America.


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