Chapter 3: Transitions from Youth to Adulthood
Sue Middleton The pathway from dependent child to independent adult in industrialised countries is perhaps better described as a series of transitions that may, or may not, take place sequentially. The European Commission identiﬁes four major transitional events which characterise the change from childhood to adulthood: ‘leaving the parental home, ﬁnishing school or college, getting a job and forming a couple’ (Eurostat, 1997, p. 4). Each of these events might increase the risk of poverty and social exclusion. In this chapter the impact of these transitional events on young people in our study countries is described. Young people’s educational, labour market and family circumstances are ﬁrst explored, in the context of a comparison of the economic and social policies and programmes which might aﬀect their ability to negotiate successfully the path to adulthood. Finally the extent of poverty and social exclusion among young people is examined and sub-groups of young people particularly at risk are identiﬁed. The conclusion considers the implications of these ﬁndings for policies targeted on youth transitions. Each country in our study adopts diﬀerent ages at which young people are allowed access to the social, economic and citizenship rights that diﬀerentiate children from adults. Hence, in order to allow direct comparisons to be made among countries, it was necessary to agree an age range for the analysis. This needed to be suﬃciently wide so that the vast majority of those younger than the lower age limit would have few, if any,...
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