Socioeconomic background and high school completion: Mediation by health and moderation by national context

Sharon R. Sznitman, Liza Reisel, Atika Khurana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study uses longitudinal data from the Norwegian Health Study linked with registry data (n = 13262) and the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (n = 3604) to examine (1) whether adolescent health mediates the well-established relationship between socioeconomic background and successful high school completion, and (2) whether this mediated pathway of influence varies by national context. Adolescents from lower educated and lower income families reported poorer health, which negatively impacted their likelihood of graduating from high school. The partial mediational effect of adolescent health was stronger in the U.S. than in Norway. These results suggest that policies aimed at preventing high school dropout need to address adolescent health, in addition to the unequal opportunities derived from socioeconomic disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-126
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescence
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research has been funded by the Research Council of Norway, through the project Educational Trajectories: Choices, Constraints and Contexts [grant number 212340/H20]. The funding source had no involvement in the study design, analysis or interpretation of the data. The authors would like to thank Danielle Taubman for assisting with earlier versions of the daft of the article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents


  • Adolescent health
  • Cross-national comparison
  • High school completion
  • Moderated mediation
  • Socioeconomic inequality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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