• Early School Leaving;
  • Determinants;
  • decomposition

This article presents a comparative analysis of the determinants of early school leaving (ESL) at the country level. We decompose ESL rates into two components: a ‘primary’ rate reflecting unqualified school leaving from initial education, and a second component accounting for early school leavers who participate in training programmes. Both may be influenced by structural and policy determinants. We examine how the ESL rate is affected by macro-economic and social context variables such as GDP/capita, growth, poverty, and youth unemployment, as well as system characteristics of the education system (such as legal school leaving age, grade retention, early tracking, and size of vocational education) and the labour market and social protection systems (minimum wages, unemployment insurance).