What is it about?

High school dropout tends to concentrate in some schools. Although a variety of factors might be involved, an unexplored possibility is that the idea of quitting school without a diploma is in part socially transmitted, i.e. that it spreads by contact from one adolescent to another. Our findings show that an adolescent is more at risk of dropping out when a friend, a romantic partner, or a sibling has recently left school.

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Why is it important?

Our study demonstrates that high school dropout can be considered a socially contagious problem and that at-risk adolescents should be inoculated against its transmission by offering them support after a peer or a sibling has dropped out.


High school dropout has long been considered the logical conclusion of many years of accumulated academic and adjustment problems. Other, more immediate social factors seem to be involved, for instance, the decision of a romantic partner or a friend to leave school.

Eric Dion
Universite du Quebec a Montreal

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This page is a summary of: Social contagion and high school dropout: The role of friends, romantic partners, and siblings., Journal of Educational Psychology, April 2021, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/edu0000484.
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