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Socioeconomic and Environmental Determinants of School Truancy in Illinois

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Objective: Little is known about the relationship between environmental factors and school truancy, especially after controlling for socioeconomic factors. Therefore, we investigated associations between social, economic, and environmental factors and school truancy in Illinois. Methods: Independent variables in our analysis included these county-level factors (N = 102): poverty, Mississippi Delta Region designation, parental involvement, single-parent families, floods, tornadoes, pollution, temperatures, and earthquakes. The dependent variable was K-12 school truancy rates aggregated to the county level. We conducted robust linear regression analysis to model relationships among variables. We also conducted spatial analysis to determine hotspots of school truancy. Results: The model in which county-level school truancy rates were regressed on social, economic, and environmental factors was statistically significant (F = 9.10, p < .001). Poverty, parental involvement, and earthquake occurrence were independent predictors of school truancy rates. Spatial analysis revealed a statistically significant cluster of high-truancy rates in 2 economically distressed Illinois counties: Alexander (local Moran's I = 6.58, p < .001) and Pulaski (local Moran's I = 3.35, p < .001). Conclusions: Efforts to decrease K-12 school truancy are needed in Illinois counties with high poverty rates, low parental involvement rates, and a history of earthquakes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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