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Laura Alexandra Helbling, Stefan Sacchi and Christian Imdorf

This chapter investigates the extent to which graduating in a bad economy scars the careers of youth cohorts in terms of increased future unemployment and over-representation in fixed-term and involuntary part-time work. Using data from the European Union’s Labour Force Survey, we explore these dynamics of scarring from a cross-country comparative perspective, focusing on the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Finland. These countries make for interesting cases because they differ remarkably on institutional and economic dimensions. Overall, we find that bad luck in the timing of labour market entry can scar future careers, even over the long run. Manifold factors might explain the observed variation in scarring effects across different institutional settings. A sound conceptualization of the institutional framing of long-term scarring effects requires a well-established micro theory of these effects’ behavioural foundations, regarding both employers and jobseekers or workers.

Open access

Jacqueline O’Reilly, Bjørn Hvinden, Mi Ah Schoyen and Christer Hyggen

This chapter summarizes the main results presented in the volume. It discusses the range of factors influencing young people’s well-being, their risk of scarring from prolonged job insecurity, their active agency in negotiating these situations in times of austerity and, finally, their prospects for making stable transitions to adulthood. Overall, the analyses show that the potential impact of employment services and active labour market policies in moderating the adverse effects of youth unemployment vary across national contexts, labour market situations and sectors. Apart from local-level public services, social networks and family support are important factors in converting resources and latent opportunities into desired outcomes, but again cross-national variations are notable. Finally, the chapter draws together the book’s main answers to the question as to how policymakers at different territorial levels can improve policies to integrate young people into the labour market.

Open access

Ondřej Hora, Markéta Horáková and Tomáš Sirovátka

Surprisingly, there is limited knowledge about how policies at national level have shaped specific ‘youth policy packages’. We discuss what might be the distinctive features of ‘youth employment/school-to-work transition regimes’ when exploring the interactions between four public policy fields: education, active employment policies, employment protection legislation and unemployment income protection. Our specific contribution is an attempt to integrate the existing studies of policies for young people into coherent patterns of policy packages. Coming from the existing theories/typologies of production regimes, (un)employment regimes and school-to-work transition regimes, we characterize the general profiles and interactions of these regimes in four policy fields. We distinguish between the inclusive regime represented by Norway in this book; the employment-centred regime represented by Germany and Switzerland; the liberal regime represented by the United Kingdom; the sub-protective regime represented by Greece and Spain; and the transitional/post-socialist regime represented by Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Poland.

Open access

Sara Ayllón, Margherita Bussi, Jacqueline O’Reilly, Mi Ah Schoyen, Ida Tolgensbakk and Ann McDonnell

This chapter asks whether young people change their behaviour and attitudes towards drug use in times of economic crisis and, if so, how. We address this question looking at the links between early job insecurity and drug consumption through quantitative and qualitative data. What role might drugs have in creating and coping with unstable personal situations and ‘unconventional’ transitions into adult life? We find that increased unemployment is associated with a rise in the consumption of certain drugs, and we explore the bounded agency of young people’s subjective experiences in such situations.

Open access

Dominik Buttler

This chapter seeks to answer the question as to why in some European countries the difference in subjective well-being between employed and unemployed youth is substantial, whereas in others it remains negligible. The main argument of this chapter claims that the relationship between employment and well-being is particularly strong in countries of high employment quality. This idea is verified empirically with the use of data from the European Social Survey.

Open access

Maria Karamessini, Maria Symeonaki, Glykeria Stamatopoulou and Dimitris Parsanoglou

This chapter is concerned with factors explaining youth unemployment and inactivity in European countries. We analyse to what extent specific demographic characteristics (gender, educational attainment, nationality, age, degree of urbanization and parental education) are good predictors of the probability of European youth being unemployed or inactive. The analysis makes use of the micro data behind the European Union’s Labour Force Survey for the years 2008 and 2015. A multinomial logistic regression is applied to shed light on youth unemployment and inactivity in nine European countries and their relationship to the above-mentioned sociodemographic variables. We thus identify the features of these countries for the years 2008 and 2015 that are most likely significant for a young individual’s risk of unemployment or inactivity. The analysis reveals that in all countries in 2015 the factor that most decisively affects youth unemployment and inactivity is age.

Open access

Kjetil Klette Bøhler, Veneta Krasteva, Jacqueline O’Reilly, Janikke Solstad Vedeler, Rumiana Stoilova and Ida Tolgensbakk

This chapter presents a cross-national qualitative comparison, examining the extent to which the narratives of young Europeans experiencing unemployment and job insecurity have commonalities across nation states. Our starting point is interviews with men and women from three birth cohorts (1950–55, 1970–75 and 1990–95) in seven European countries. Using the concept of big-N narratives, we interpret common themes found in our data. We focus on subjective consequences, using the capability approach to understand how individual actors perceive their challenges, what they are capable of doing and what might help them. The chapter expands on previous work by proposing seven conversion factors as lenses for our analysis: institutional, social, economic, familial, cultural, political and personal. Reading the data through these lenses, four overarching narratives of unemployment emerge: the Stumbler narrative, the Stigmatized narrative, the Great Crisis narrative and the Messy Life narrative.

Open access

Piotr Michoń

The chapter provides an analysis of the effects on the labour market of absolute and relative changes in the size of the youth population in the context of the recent economic and financial crisis. Whereas most studies neglect the demographic effect in short-run analyses of the labour market, this contribution argues that neglecting demographic shifts has important consequences both practically and methodologically. It is argued that because of decreasing levels of substitutability of young and older workers, it is necessary to focus on the absolute number of employed young people rather than on employment rates. The message of this chapter is that if one observes a short-term improvement on the basis of traditional labour market indicators, it is likely that this improvement will distort policymakers’ interpretations and decisions.

Open access

Margherita Bussi, Bjørn Hvinden and Mi Ah Schoyen

Key aims of the European Social Fund have been economic redistribution and social cohesion within the EU. However, social policy research has taken little interest in the question of how resources channelled through the ESF affect employment and social welfare. Addressing this gap, the chapter retraces youth as a target population of the ESF over time and shows how ESF support for young people has evolved in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom since 2007. Overall, the result is an ambiguous picture regarding the ESF’s significance vis-à-vis young people at risk of long-term unemployment or precarity in the 2007–13 funding period. In the ongoing funding period (2014_20) efforts to tackle young people’s difficulties in the labour market have been stepped up. While the topic is clearly in need of further research, such efforts are frustrated by a lack of high-quality, comparative, quantitative data.

Open access

Irene Dingeldey, Lisa Steinberg and Marie-Luise Assmann

Comparing Germany, Spain and Greece, the article outlines how the implementation of the European Youth Guarantee was rather path dependent, in the sense that it largely reproduced and strengthened a pre-existing approach of domestic youth unemployment policies. Nevertheless, by adopting a broader perspective on the impact of the YG, we can observe different types of shifts in governance processes (procedural change) and in agendas (substantive change). These changes are supported by mechanisms of vertical and horizontal coordination linked to the implementation of the YG. Overall, the changes in Southern European countries are greater than in Germany. European financial support and a more evident institutional misfit with respect to settings for providing smooth school-to-work transition in Southern Europe than in Germany may have contributed to this difference.