*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on EurekAlert.
Kids who miss a lot of school from kindergarten to eighth grade may suffer unexpected costs as young adults, a new study finds.
Researchers found that those who were more regularly absent in these early years of school were less likely to vote, reported having greater economic difficulties, and had poorer educational outcomes when they were 22 to 23 years old.
The results suggest early school absenteeism should be taken more seriously, said Arya Ansari, lead author of the study and assistant professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.
“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,” said Ansari, who is also a researcher at Ohio State’s Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy.
“This study shows that those early absences do matter, and in ways that many people don’t consider.”
This study included data on 648 students from 10 cities across the United States who were followed from birth through young adulthood. Researchers had information on the number of days the children were absent from school between kindergarten and eighth grade.
In 2013 and 2014, when the participants were 22 or 23 years old, they reported on a variety of outcomes, from criminal or deviant behavior to parenthood, political participation, and economic hardship.
Results showed that school absenteeism didn’t have any relation with criminal, risky or deviant behavior, Ansari said. But it was linked to political engagement and educational and economic success.
The study was published online recently in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.