Greater income inequality is associated with lower belonging at school

Ronnel B. KING, Ming Ming CHIU, Hongfei DU

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Students’ school belonging is critical to overall academic and socioemotional functioning. However, past studies of school belonging have mostly focused on the proximal micro and meso-system antecedents. The role of the broader macro societal environment is seldom examined. In this study, we focus particularly on income inequality at the societal level and how it is associated with students’ school belonging. We further examined whether socioeconomic status at the family and school level moderates the harmful effects of inequality on belonging. We analyzed 822,230 students’ survey responses from 65 countries/regions using three waves of data (2000, 2003, and 2012) from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Results showed that country-level inequality in the past year was associated with lower school belonging, controlling for other variables at the country, school, and student-levels. Moreover, for students from high socioeconomic status families and more advantaged schools, the association between income inequality and lower school belonging was weakened. This study demonstrates the importance of economic inequality in understanding school belonging. Copyright © 2021 Asian Association of Social Psychology.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


King, R. B., Chiu, M., & Du, H. (2021, July). Greater income inequality is associated with lower belonging at school. Paper presented at The 14th Biennial Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology, Seoul, Korea.


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