The quarter-life crisis? Precarious labour market status and mental health among 25-year-old in England

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Morag Henderson UCL Institute of Education, UK

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Despite an increase in living standards and material comforts in industrialised societies, today's ‘emerging adults’ (aged from late teens to mid-to-late 20s) face greater challenges than ever before. The aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between labour market status and mental health for the ‘millennial generation’ in England, and whether it varies by gender and ethnicity. This study will be the first to draw on the results from the 2015 sweep of Next Steps data when the sample members are aged 25 and, together with the previous seven sweeps, bring the debate up to date by providing first estimates of the life condition of contemporary emerging adults. We find black and minority ethnic groups have lower odds of reporting mental ill-health at age 25 than the white group. With respect to labour market status, we find that net of socio-economic characteristics, educational attainment, behavioural variables and income at age 25, those who are unemployed are more than twice as likely to report symptoms of poor mental health as those who are employed. Shift workers and those on zero-hours contracts are also at a greater risk of mental ill-health by 47% and 44% respectively than those who are not shift workers or zero-hours workers. We find no significant difference for those who have a second job or are on a permanent contract for mental health at age 25 compared to those who do not have a second job or are on a temporary contract.

Morag Henderson UCL Institute of Education, UK

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