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  • Author or Editor: Sonia Bertolini x
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Leaving one’s home of origin is regarded as one of the key markers of the transition to adulthood (Shanahan, 2000; Corijn and Klijzing, 2001). Indeed, the individual life courses of youth are socially embedded in the macroinstitutional and structural as well as cultural context that defines the set of opportunities and constraints to which individual persons respond when making their life course decisions and transitions.

The factors that influence the means and timing of young people’s housing autonomy in different institutional contexts are complex and interwoven. They include historical differences, social and cultural norms, institutional frameworks, and macrolevel economic factors such as the structure of labour markets and access to housing (Buchmann and Kriesi, 2011; Breen and Buchmann, 2016; Bertolini et al, 2019).

On the macrolevel, following Moreno (2012), comparative European research has shown the combined influence of the welfare regime on what some authors refer to as the transition regime (Walther, 2006), and of culture (Billari and Liefbroer, 2007; Giuliano, 2007; Goldscheider and Goldscheider, 1989, 1996; Surkyn and Lesthaeghe, 2004) on the diverse trends observed in the transition to adulthood in various European countries.

Macrolevel factors and labour market integration are not the only determinants of such a complex phenomenon as leaving one’s home of origin and setting up one’s own household. Indeed, there is a wide body of literature highlighting the role of other micro- and mesolevel determinants.

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The Multifaceted Consequences of Labour Market Insecurity

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Policymakers throughout Europe are enacting policies to support youth labour market integration. However, many young people continue to face unemployment, job insecurity, and the subsequent consequences.

Adopting a mixed-method and multilevel perspective, this book provides a comprehensive investigation into the multifaceted consequences of social exclusion. Drawing on rich pan-European comparative and quantitative data, and interviews with young people from across Europe, this text gives a platform to the unheard voices of young people.

Contributors derive crucial new policy recommendations and offer fresh insights into areas including youth well-being, health, poverty, leaving the parental home, and qualifying for social security.

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Labour market insecurities are widespread among young people in Europe, and they represent a key challenge to society. Comparative research has shown that, across Europe, youth often experience labour market exclusion in terms of periods of unemployment and episodes of being not in employment, education, or training (NEET) (Eurofound, 2012; Dietrich, 2013; Lange et al, 2014; O’Reilly et al, 2015; Rokicka et al, 2018). Moreover, if young people actually do find a job, they often face job insecurity in the form of temporary jobs (Baranowska and Gebel, 2010; Karamessini et al, 2019; Passaretta and Wolbers, 2019). Indeed, labour market insecurities hit young people more often than the rest of the population in Europe (Breen, 2005; Baranowska and Gebel, 2010).

However, counter to the rhetoric in public and political debates, trend studies cannot confirm a general increase in youth NEET and temporary employment over time (Gebel and Giesecke, 2016). Instead, there are strong cyclical components, because youth are affected specifically by business cycle fluctuations (Dietrich, 2013; Lange et al, 2014). They were affected particularly during crises such as the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent debt and Eurozone crises (Choudhry et al, 2012; Marques and Hörisch, 2020). Such crises are expected to have a potentially detrimental effect on the future of these young people in the form of ‘scar effects’ (Unt and Täht, 2020). Indeed, concerns have been raised as to whether the so-called Great Recession has produced a ‘lost generation’ of young people (Hur, 2018).

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Most previous research in this area has addressed the drivers of youth job insecurity and especially youth unemployment. Gathering and implementing knowledge to prevent youth unemployment and support youth pathways out of temporary jobs is a highly relevant research activity. Moreover, there is also an urgent need to understand the consequences of such individual-level labour market insecurities, because unemployment along with extended periods of temporary employment, including a chain of mini-jobs, are a widespread phenomenon among youth. Likewise, policies need to be evaluated not only in terms of their ability to tackle youth labour market vulnerability per se, but also regarding the role these policies play in mitigating the consequences of labour market insecurity on other dimensions of young people’s lives. This book extends the limited amount of previous European comparative research in this field (see, for example, Blossfeld et al, 2005; Gallie, 2013; Vossemer et al, 2018; Stasiowski and Kłobuszewska, 2018; Högberg et al, 2019a, 2019b; Hvinden et al, 2019; Täht et al, 2020).The chapters of this book do not follow the same line of analysis for all countries, but take more of a comparative approach providing systematic in-depth insights into the different consequences of individual-level labour market insecurities in Europe for the risks of social exclusion of youth. Starting from a shared multilevel theoretical model, the book approaches this research topic empirically from a multimethod and European comparative perspective. The aim is to promote comparative qualitative research by adding to the almost non-existent qualitative literature on young people’s own perceptions of labour market insecurity from a comparative perspective.

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Ever since the mid-19th century, paid work has held a central role in modern societies, not only in securing social inclusion and integration but also in constructing individual and social identities (Albano and Parisi, 2017).1 This chapter focuses on the ways in which youth in different national contexts construct the meaning of work and the expectations towards work that are embedded in their personal labour market experiences. Qualitative interviews are analysed from Italy, Estonia, and Poland – different countries that share some cultural and institutional characteristics. All three countries belong to Western culture, yet Estonia and Poland share a post-socialist past, whereas Poland and Italy are Catholic countries, and are thus more likely to hold certain traditional views, all which might shape the meanings of work.

According to the European Values Study (EVS) 2008, work is very important in one’s life for about 64 per cent of respondents in Italy, 56 per cent in Poland, and 46 per cent in Estonia. There are some age variations. In Poland and Estonia, young people (aged 15 to 29 years) indicate that the level of significance of work in their lives is similar to the country average; but for youth in Italy, work is somewhat less significant (57 per cent) compared to the Italian average. Hence, quantitative data suggest that work holds a different position in young people’s lives in these three countries.

The aim of this chapter is to study whether and how meanings given to work differ for youth in Italy, Poland, and Estonia by analysing qualitative semi-structured interviews.

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This chapter focuses on how housing autonomy affects the transition to adulthood among youth in Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria. The three countries represent two different models of welfare regime: the Southern and the Eastern European regimes. However, in terms of economic situation and policies, especially for young people, they are quite similar. All three countries are also characterised by a collectivist culture, strong family relations that compensate for the fragmented and residual welfare systems, and highly valued social support networks that also include intergenerational ones. Furthermore, during the last decade, the inhabitants of all three countries have suffered serious problems in the economic sphere with very high rates of youth unemployment. In Greece, the financial crisis was particularly severe; in Bulgaria, there are high levels of emigration among young people.

These situations have seriously limited youth autonomy, emotionally, psychologically and financially, and especially for some groups of young people who depend heavily on their parents’ economic status and capital.

In all three countries, young adults are late leavers – that is, they continue to live with their parents up to the age of 29, compared to youth from northern and central European countries who exit the parental home sooner. According to the literature (Chtouris et al, 2006), this lengthy period of living with the family of origin may delay the transition to a financially independent and socially integrated adult life. Questions about the way young people perceive this delay in the context of social and economic hardship, how they construct their adult identity, and which factors have the greatest influence on this process, remain unanswered.

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