Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Disability differentials in educational attainment in England: primary and secondary effects

Chatzitheochari, Stella and Platt, Lucinda ORCID: 0000-0002-8251-6400 (2019) Disability differentials in educational attainment in England: primary and secondary effects. British Journal of Sociology, 70 (2). 502 - 525. ISSN 0007-1315

Text - Accepted Version
Download (701kB) | Preview
Identification Number: 10.1111/1468-4446.12372


Childhood disability has been largely overlooked in social stratification and life course research. As a result, we know remarkably little about mechanisms behind well-documented disability differentials in educational outcomes. This study investigates educational transitions of disabled youth using data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England. We draw on social stratification literature on primary and secondary effects as well as that on stigma and labeling in order to explain disabled young people’s educational outcomes. We find that disability differentials in transition rates to full-time academic upper secondary education and to university are largely the result of primary effects, reflected in differences in school performance between disabled and non-disabled young people. However, we also find evidence for secondary effects, with similarly achieving disabled young people less likely to pursue full-time academic upper secondary education compared to their non-disabled peers. We examine the extent to which these effects can be explained by disabled youth’s suppressed educational expectations as well as their experiences of being bullied at school, which we link to the stigma experienced by disabled young people and their families. We find that educational expectations play an important role at crucial transitions in the English school system, while the effect of bullying is considerably smaller. By drawing attention to different social processes contributing to disability differentials in attainment, our study moves beyond medical models that implicitly assume a naturalized association of disability with poor educational outcomes, and demonstrates the parallels of disability with other ascriptive inequalities.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The London School of Economics and Political Science
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2018 14:48
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 23:14
Projects: ES/K00302X/1
Funders: Economic & Social Research Council

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics