Social Background and Learning - Analysis of Marginalised

Children and Socioeconomic Weak Children's School Results

How and to what extent does social background influence the academic results in public school? Results from a comprehensive register data analysis document worse academic results in Danish and mathematics for vulnerable children and socioeconomically disadvantaged children.

Time period:


Target group:

Socioeconomically disadvantaged children, defined by having mothers, who at the highest have a primary school education and vulnerable children, defined by the child have received an effort under Servicelovens § 52.

Number of participants

All the students who participated in national tests in 2010/2011. All the students who participated in national tests in 2010/2011.


The study is based on a register data analysis and aims to identify the statistical correlations between the children’s family background and their academic level, to describe the development in the academic level over a period of time, plus which influence the children’s and parents’ background have for this.

For the analysis, data from Danmarks Statistik are used to get information on the children’s background characteristics – with among other things socioeconomics information about education, employment and transfer payments, and other information about delinquency, et cetera. In addition, the group has used information about the children’s absence, results in national tests, plus continuous assessment marks and examination marks.


Ministry of Education and Rambøll Management Consulting.


Vulnerable children and children from socioeconomic disadvantaged families do considerably worse in school already in 2. grade compared to other children and youths, and the difference only seems to get bigger during school time, especially in mathematics. The academic difference in level can to a great extent be explained on the basis of the parents’ background, while the characteristics of the individual schools don’t have any significant meaning.

Few vulnerable children and children with a socioeconomic disadvantaged background are pattern breakers. Among the children in the target group, the tendency is very low to be among the academic best quarter in the class, particularly in the oldest classes. And half of those, who are in the best quarter early in the school time, will disappear during their school years – though new, will come. The low degree of pattern breakers can especially be explained by the parents’ background.

Project group