Independence of young adults in the Western world: evidence before and after the economic crisis

Maria Sironi, University College London

Transition to adulthood has undoubtedly changed in the last few decades. One aspect that has become more and more relevant over time, and one that youth today considers one of the most important markers of adulthood, is the achievement of economic (and residential) independence. Financial self-sufficiency is not only dependent on young adults’ educational choices and participation in the labour market, but also subject to economy fluctuations and the government’s response. In this work, I explore the employment and economic conditions of young adults in five countries – United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, and Spain – at four different points in time: 2000, 2004, 2007, and 2010. Using the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), I can investigate the changes in the transition to economic and residential independence before and after the Great Recession of 2008, taking into account the trends since the beginning of the 21st century. I find a general deterioration in economic conditions of young men, but with quite large differences across countries. Young women suffer less from the crisis, and in some countries, their ability to achieve financial self-sufficiency improves. The results show how the impact of the financial crisis is highly dependent on the context and youth welfare transfers.

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Presented in Session 17: The impact of recession on life course