Occupational Transitions of Youth in Europe. Evidence from Four European Countries
What emerges from studies on patterns of entry for young people into the labour market and on the early stages of their employment careers is growing work career insecurity. The growing difficulties for young people in entering the labour market and the problematic search for a position of greater stability mean that it is appropriate to adopt approaches that enable dynamic and longitudinal analyses to be carried out in order to evaluate the characteristics and the quality of the transitions they have experienced.
The objective of this paper is to achieve a greater understanding of the transitions young adults find themselves faced with, in particular negative transitions (from employment into unemployment and from employment into inactivity) by focusing on young adults in the 25-34 age group in four European countries – Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Norway – between 2006-2012. This time period is considered as composed of an initial one up to 2008, representative of the pre-crisis situation, and a second one marking the beginning of a crisis phase. The empirical part is based on EU-SILC longitudinal data, analysed using event history analysis.
We will begin with the assumption that variations in the transitions depend on the specific institutional context of the four countries. In particular, reference will be made to the welfare regimes, employment models, and the education-training system specific to each of the four countries. Account will also be taken of what we consider are other crucial variables that describe the changing nature of the transitions within and across the four countries analysed; i.e. level of education, gender and the type of contract provided on entry into the labour market. The comparison between the two different periods will enable us to assess whether and to what extent the labour market trajectories of young people are influenced by changes in economic conditions and, at the same time, observe the way in which the institutional models influence the changes themselves.
Results show a disadvantage for those entering the labour market with a temporary contract, a common evidence for all the countries analyzed. Besides, a higher educational title reduces the risk of negative transitions, although with different intensity in the countries analyzed, while gender differences widely vary from country to country. The institutional conditions specific to the country affect the shape of transitions, showing a pronounced disadvantage for the South-European model typical of Italy and, although a little less marked, for the United Kingdom. Finally, a deterioration of opportunities as a consequence of worsened economic conditions is observable only for the transition from employment to unemployment -and particularly for Italian and British youth-; while the transition from employment to inactivity, unlike what expected, diminishes in the period 2009-12, probably due to the increasing need of getting income during critical periods, resulting in an activating effect among potential inactive individuals.