Negotiating transition to adulthood in economic hard times

Serious young woman sitting on a bench outdoors

A new NEGOTIATE working paper focuses on what could be done in order to help young people in their transition to adulthood in times of an economic crisis.

The report uses data from United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Poland.

The paper, based on the research conducted by Stoilova and colleagues from the Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge (ISSK) in Bulgaria, consists of three main parts:

Education works

Firstly the report explores the influence of the institutional (stratification, vocational preference, standardization) and structural (expansion of education, development of lifelong learning, expenditure on education) features of the educational system on early job insecurity. It shows that the vocational specificity of upper secondary education positively influences individuals’ capacity to find employment and avoid early job insecurity.

The report reveals that whereas the standardisation of output in educational systems decreases early job insecurity, the standardisation of input is associated with increased early job insecurity. The educational expansion also has a positive effect and decreases early job insecurity: in countries that invest more money in education, the index levels of early job insecurity are lower and the odds of young people working part-time jobs also decrease.

Family before work?

The second part of the report focuses on cultural gender values, time spent on housework, and factors influencing early childbirth. The analysis shows that belonging to a minority group, having a child, living with a partner, and either being unemployed or inactive are factors that increased the likelihood of women agreeing that women should be prepared to cut down on paid work for the sake of the family.

Of the individual factors influencing attitudes towards gender roles, the most significant is education. Women with a higher level of education did not agree that women should leave work to care for the family; by contrast, women with lower levels of education did agree with this assertion, as did men with lower levels of education. Higher education levels increased the importance of Work Life Balance (WLB) in job selection among men, while lower education levels among women decreased the importance of WLB.

Financial assistance too low

The third part looked at subjective assessments of the young people in seven countries and the institutional support they had received while they were unemployed. In all countries under study, regardless of welfare regime types, this support is assessed by most interviewees as not suitable or adequate to the situation of young people. Through the interviews it appeared that financial assistance is important, but it was considered too low and inadequate for an independent life. As for housing benefits they were assessed as valuable, but not enough. Financial aid as a form of support appeared to be most important to ethnic minority groups, the long-term unemployed and single mothers.

Internship prolong employment insecurity

The young people interviewed also stated that the internship opportunities provided in the framework of active labour market policies only contributed to enhancing the chances of getting temporary employment but did not do the trick of getting them out of employment insecurity. The need for personal support and career guidance is evident from the interviews in nearly all countries.

Based on the findings resulting from the research, a number of policy recommendations have been made up which you can find in the ‘NEGOTIATE working paper no. 5.4 on ‘NEGOTIATE working paper no. 5.4 on Negotiating transition to adulthood in economic hard times (pdf)’ by Rumiana Stoilova, Pepka Boyadjieva, Petya Ilieva-Trichkova and Veneta Krasteva.