Has the Great Recession Led to a Postponement of the Transition to Adulthood in Europe? And If so, for Whom?

Aart C. Liefbroer , Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Jan Van Bavel, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Francesco Billari, Bocconi University
Gunhild Hagestad, NN
Rick Settersten, Oregon State University
Zsolt Speder, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute, Budapest

The Great Recession that struck Europe during the second part of the 2000s and the first part of the 2010s has given the economic prospects of young adults a massive hit, with surging levels of youth unemployment in large parts of the continent. As a result of the increasing economic insecurity and financial dependency of young adults, many of them are thought to have postponed the transition to adulthood. Evidence on postponement of the transition to adulthood is scarce, however. This paper examines whether young adults in Europe have postponed key markers in the transition to adulthood, like entry into paid employment, leaving the parental home, cohabitation, marriage and parenthood. It is expected that young adults in countries that are most severely hit by the Great Recession postpone the transition to adulthood more than young adults in countries not hit that strongly by the recession. It is also expected that young adults from lower social class backgrounds more strongly postpone most markers than young adults from higher social class backgrounds. Our hypotheses are tested using data on 30 European countries from wave 9 of the European Social Survey, that contained a special module on the timing of life events.

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 Presented in Session 111. Life Course: Transition to Adulthood