Youth unemployment and the consequences for life satisfaction and social trust

Handing over CV - hands holding CV and red skirt in background - photo: colourbox

This January a new NEGOTIATE Working paper has been published on ‘Youth unemployment and the consequences for life satisfaction and social trust in seven European countries’ written by I. Tolgensbakk, J. Solstad Vedeler and B. Hvinden of the Oslo and Akershus University.

In their paper they aim to understand the subjective effects of youth unemployment in Europe by conducting life story interviews with 211 individuals coming from seven different European countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Norway, Poland and the UK) born either between 1950 and 1955, 1970-1975 or 1990-1995. Their research evolved around the following three questions;

  • From a cross-national perspective, what are the main narratives of people who have experiences job insecurity in their early youth as they transitioned into adulthood? How did they seek to actively cope with job insecurity?
  • What are the effects of unemployment on the interviewees’ subjective experiences of social trust and life satisfaction?
  • What are the interviewees’ policy recommendations?

Through their research they identified four narrative categories, the Stumbler Narrative (initial but passing trouble during their transition from education to labour), the Precariat Narrative (have experienced and are still experiencing trouble in their life situation of economic insecurity), The Messy Life Narrative (people with life trajectories that got somehow out of hand) and the Great Crisis Narrative (people who cope with a sense of hopelessness due to unemployment). The majority of the interviewees fall under the category of the Precariat Narrative.

No striking differences between the different age groups or countries were found, they all appear to respond similar to the financial insecurity that comes with unemployment being it either with having difficulty taking family related responsibilities or coping with mental health problems due to the difficult situation. Some also considered their situation to be slightly positive, as they were able to have a deeper understanding of themselves and their skills due to the tough times they had to go through.

According to the group of interviewees policy could be improved through:

  • More and robust apprenticeships;
  • Better, individually tailored services offered by the governments;
  • Better monitoring of existing legislation that should protect workers from precariousness and exploitation by employers.

Here you can find the full version of the working paper (pdf).