Towards an understanding of teacher attrition: A meta-analysis of burnout, job satisfaction, and teachers’ intentions to quit

Daniel J. Madigan, Lisa Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Teacher attrition continues to be a concern for school leaders and policymakers in many countries. To help further understand why teachers leave the profession and to inform the development of targeted interventions to reduce this phenomenon, in the present study we aimed to provide the first meta-analytic examination of (a) the relationship between burnout and teachers’ intentions to quit, (b) the relationship between job satisfaction and teachers’ intentions to quit, and (c) whether burnout or job satisfaction is more important in predicting teachers’ intentions to quit. Random-effects meta-analyses indicated that the three dimensions of burnout showed significant positive relationships with teachers’ intentions to quit (exhaustion [r+¬ = .41], depersonalization [r+¬ = .32], and reduced accomplishment [r+¬ = .21]). In addition, there was evidence that the strength of these relationships has increased over time. Job satisfaction showed a significant negative relationship with teachers’ intentions to quit (r+¬ = −.40). Burnout dimensions also showed significant negative relationships with job satisfaction (exhaustion [r+¬ = −.42], depersonalization [r+¬ = −.38], and reduced accomplishment [r+¬ = −.30]). Multiple regression analyses based on these meta-analytic effects indicated that burnout and job satisfaction together explained 27% of the variance in teachers’ intentions to quit. Finally, relative importance analyses indicated that burnout symptoms accounted for the majority of this explained variance. These findings suggest that burnout and job satisfaction are highly important in predicting teachers’ intentions to quit, but it appears that, although they are related, burnout may confer a greater risk than job satisfaction confers protection, and this risk may be increasing over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalTeaching and Teacher Education
Early online date25 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

©2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • burnout
  • exhaustion
  • job satisfaction
  • teacher attrition
  • teacher retention
  • intentions to quit
  • turnover

Cite this