Income Inequality or Performance Gap? A Multilevel Study of School Violence in 52 Countries

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Purpose The purpose of the study was to examine the association between income inequality and school violence and between the performance inequality and school violence in two international samples. Methods The study used data from Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2011 and from the Central Intelligence Agency of United States which combined information about academic performance and students' victimization (physical and social) for 269,456 fourth-grade students and 261,747 eighth-grade students, with gross domestic product and income inequality data in 52 countries. Ecological correlations tested associations between income inequality and victimization and between school performance inequality and victimization among countries. Multilevel ordinal regression and multilevel regression analyses tested the strength of these associations when controlling for socioeconomic and academic performance inequality at school level and family socioeconomic status and academic achievement at student level. Results Income inequality was associated with victimization rates in both fourth and eighth grade (r ≈.60). Performance inequality shows stronger association with victimization among eighth graders (r ≈.46) compared with fourth graders (r ≈.30). Multilevel analyses indicate that both an increase in the income inequality in the country and school corresponds with more frequent physical and social victimization. On the other hand, an increase in the performance inequality at the system level shows no consistent association to victimization. However, school performance inequality seems related to an increase in both types of victimizations. Conclusions Our results contribute to the finding that income inequality is a determinant of school violence. This result holds regardless of the national performance inequality between students.




Contreras, D., Elacqua, G., Martinez, M., & Miranda, Á. (2015). Income Inequality or Performance Gap? A Multilevel Study of School Violence in 52 Countries. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57(5), 545–552.

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