pp 1–21 | Cite as

Individual-level and family background determinants of young adults’ unemployment in Europe

  • Ondřej DvouletýEmail author
  • Martin Lukeš
  • Mihaela Vancea
Original Paper


The aim of this study is to explore individual-level and family background determinants of young adults’ unemployment. Compared to previous studies, we focus on extended adulthood by including a broader age range in the sample of young adults (18–35 years), and on less explored individual predictors. A harmonized data set, based on representative cross-sectional national surveys conducted in 2016 in eleven European countries, was used to analyze individual level predictors of young adults’ unemployment. For young economically active individuals (N = 14,602), we estimated logistic regressions with the dependent variable representing odds of being unemployed. The findings suggest that besides age, gender, education, migration and ethnic backgrounds, caring responsibilities or unemployment experience, there are other important predictors of young adults’ unemployment such as religious affiliation, risk taking and parental unemployment experience. Obtained estimates are robust and can be thus more likely generalized in comparison with previous findings. Policy-makers and labor market offices should better address those groups of young adults most endangered by unemployment such as younger individuals, women, ethnic minorities, risk averse young adults or those with parental unemployment history through more effective, inclusive and tailored education and labor market policies as well as specific counselling support services for career orientation and development.


Young adults Unemployment Labor market Socio-demographic characteristics Parental influence Europe Determinants of unemployment 

JEL Classification

L26 J21 J64 



This research was funded by the EU collaborative research Project CUPESSE (Cultural Pathways to Economic Self-Sufficiency and Entrepreneurship; Grant Agreement No. 613257). We thank the editor Fritz Breuss and anonymous referees for their valuable contributions to the development of this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Arnett JJ (2000) Emerging adulthood: a theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. Am Psychol 55(5):469–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnett JJ, Padilla-Walker LM (2015) Brief report: Danish emerging adults' conceptions of adulthood. J adolesc 38:39–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Axelrad H, Malul M, Luski I (2018) Unemployment among younger and older individuals: does conventional data about unemployment tell us the whole story? J Labour Mark Res 52(1):3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bell DN, Blanchflower DG (2011) Young people and the great recession. Oxford Rev Econ Policy 27(2):241–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernal-Verdugo LE, Furceri D, Guillaume D (2012) Labor market flexibility and unemployment: new empirical evidence of static and dynamic effects. Comp Econ Stud 54(2):251–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bertola G, Blau FD, Kahn LM (2007) Labor market institutions and demographic employment patterns. J Population Econ 20(4):833–867CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blackaby D, Leslie D, Murphy P, O’Leary N (1999) Unemployment among Britain’s ethnic minorities. Manch Sch 67(1):1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brada JC, Marelli E, Signorelli M (2014) Introduction: young people and the labor market: key determinants and new evidence. Comp Econ Stud 56(4):556–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Breuss F (2016) The crisis in retrospect: causes, effects and policy responses. In: Badinger H, Nitsch V (eds) Routledge handbook of the economics of European integration, Routledge, London and New York, pp 331–350Google Scholar
  10. Burgess S, Propper C, Rees H, Shearer A (2003) The class of 1981: the effects of early-career unemployment on subsequent unemployment experiences. Labour Econ 10(3):291–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buser T, Niederle M, Oosterbeek H (2014) Gender, competitiveness, and career choices. Q J Econ 129(3):1409–1447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Caliendo M, Schmidl R (2016) Youth unemployment and active labor market policies in Europe. IZA J Labour Policy 5(1):1–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Christl M, Köppl-Turyna M, Kucsera D (2017) Effects of collective minimum wages on youth employment in Austria. Empirica 44(4):781–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clark C, Smuk M, Lain D, Stansfeld SA, Carr E, Head J, Vickerstaff S (2017) Impact of childhood and adulthood psychological health on labor force participation and exit in later life. Psychol Med 47(9):1597–1608. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crisp R, Powell R (2017) Young people and UK labor market policy: a critique of ‘employability’ as a tool for understanding youth unemployment. Urban Stud 54(8):1784–1807CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. CUPESSE (2018) Cultural pathways to economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship. Accessed 22 Mar 2018
  17. De la Fuente A (2011) Population and social conditions. Eurostat Stat Focus 57:1–7Google Scholar
  18. Diaz-Serrano L, O’Neill D (2004) The relationship between unemployment and risk aversion (no. 1214). Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), BonnGoogle Scholar
  19. Dohmen T, Falk A, Huffman D, Sunde U, Schupp J, Wagner GG (2011) Individual risk attitudes: measurement, determinants, and behavioural consequences. J Eur Econ Assoc 9(3):522–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dolado JJ, Jansen M, Felgueroso F, Fuentes A, Wölfl A (2013) Youth labour market performance in spain and its determinants. OECD Library, ParisGoogle Scholar
  21. Dustmann C, Fasani F, Meng X, Minale L (2017) Risk attitudes and household migration decisions (no. 10603). IZA policy paperGoogle Scholar
  22. Eichhorst W, Hinte H, Rinne U (2013) Youth unemployment in Europe: what to do about it? (no. 65). IZA policy paperGoogle Scholar
  23. Eurostat (2017) Database. Accessed on 10 Aug 2017
  24. Eurostat (2018) Share of young adults aged 18–34 living with their parents by age and sex—EU-SILC survey. Accessed 22 Mar 2018
  25. Feldmann H (2007) Economic freedom and unemployment around the world. South Econ J 74(1):158–176Google Scholar
  26. GESIS Data Archive, Tosun J, Arco-Tirdao JL, Caserta M, Cemalcilar Z, Freitag M, Hörisch F, Jensen C, Kittel B, Littvay L, Lukeš M, Maloney WA, Mühlböck M, Rainsford E, Rapp C, Schuck B, Shore J, Steiber N, Sümer N, Tsakoglou P, Vancea M, Vegetti F (2018) CUPESSE: cultural pathways to economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship—dataset. Accessed 12 Sep 2018.
  27. Ghoshray A, Ordóñez J, Sala H (2016) Euro, crisis and unemployment: youth patterns, youth policies? Econ Model 58:442–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Guiso L, Jappelli T, Pistaferri L (2002) An empirical analysis of earnings and employment risk. J Bus Econ Stat 20(2):241–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Heely AE, Breen M (2014) Religiosity in times of insecurity: an analysis of Irish, Spanish and Portuguese European Social Survey data, 2002–12. Ir J Sociol 22(2):4–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Heritage Foundation (2017) Database. Accessed on 10 Aug 2017
  31. Hutengs O, Stadtmann G (2014) Age-and gender-specific unemployment in Scandinavian countries: an analysis based on Okun’s law. Comp Econ Stud 56(4):567–580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Immerzeel T, van Tubergen F (2013) Religion as reassurance? Testing the insecurity theory in 26 European Countries. Eur Sociol Rev 29(2):359–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Isengard B (2003) Youth unemployment: Individual risk factors and institutional determinants A case study of Germany and the United Kingdom. J Youth Stud 6(4):357–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kelly E, McGuinness S, O’Connell PJ (2012) Transitions to long-term unemployment risk among young people: evidence from Ireland. J Youth Stud 15(6):780–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kelly E, McGuinness S, O’connell PJ, Haugh D, Pandiella AG (2014) Transitions in and out of unemployment among young people in the Irish recession. Comp Econ Stud 56(4):616–634CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Khattab N, Johnston R (2013) Ethnic and religious penalties in a changing British labour market from 2002 to 2010: the case of unemployment. Environ Plan A 45(6):1358–1371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kind M (2015) Start me up: How fathers’ unemployment affects their sons’ school-to-work transitions (no. 583). RWI-Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-EssenGoogle Scholar
  38. Klug K (2017) Young and at risk? consequences of job insecurity for mental health and satisfaction among labor market entrants with different levels of education. Econ Ind Democr.
  39. Lindley J (2002) Race or religion? The impact of religion on the employment and earnings of Britain's ethnic communities. J ethn Migr Stud 28(3):427–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Long CD (1958) The labor force under changing income and employment. In: NBER books. National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  41. Lönnqvist JE, Verkasalo M, Walkowitz G, Wichardt PC (2015) Measuring individual risk attitudes in the lab: task or ask? An empirical comparison. J Econ Behav Organ 119:254–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lundin A, Hemmingsson T (2013) Adolescent predictors of unemployment and disability pension across the life course—a longitudinal study of selection in 49 321 Swedish men (No. 2013: 25). IFAU-Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  43. Marelli E, Vakulenko E (2016) Youth unemployment in Italy and Russia: aggregate trends and individual determinants. Econ Labour Relat Rev 27(3):387–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mendolia S, Walker I (2015) Youth unemployment and personality traits. IZA J Labor Econ 4(1):19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Meredith N (2017) Religion and labor: an examination of religious service attendance and unemployment using count data methods. East Econ J 43:451–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mojsoska-Blazevski N, Petreski M, Bojadziev MI (2017) Youth survival in the labour market: employment scarring in three transition economies. Econ Labour Relat Rev 28(2):312–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nachman D (1979) On the theory of risk-aversion and the theory of risk. J Econ Theory 21:317–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Neumark D, Wascher W (2004) Minimum wages, labor market institutions, and youth employment: a cross-national analysis. ILR Rev 57(2):223–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nunez I, Livanos I (2015) Temps “by choice”? An investigation of the reasons behind temporary employment among young workers in Europe. J Labor Res 36:44–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nunziata L, Staffolani S (2007) Short‐term contracts regulations and dynamic labour demand: theory and evidence. Scott J Polit Econ 54(1):72–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Oberschachtsiek D, Ullrich B (2010) The link between career risk aversion and unemployment duration: evidence of non-linear and time-depending pattern (no. 189). University of Lüneburg working paper series in economicsGoogle Scholar
  52. O’Reilly J, Eichhorst W, Gábos A, Hadjivassiliou K, Lain D, Leschke J et al (2015) Five characteristics of youth unemployment in Europe: flexibility, education, migration, family legacies, and EU policy. Sage Open 5(1):2158244015574962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Papadopoulos O (2016) Economic crisis and youth unemployment: comparing Greece and Ireland. Eur J Ind Relat 22(4):409–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pastore F (2015) The European Youth Guarantee: labor market context, conditions and opportunities in Italy. IZA J Eur Lab Stud 4(1):11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Quintini G, Martin S (2006) Starting well or losing their way?: The position of youth in the labour market in OECD countries. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 39, OECD PublishingGoogle Scholar
  56. Ralston K, Feng Z, Everington D, Dibben C (2016) Do young people not in education, employment or training experience long-term occupational scarring? A longitudinal analysis over 20 years of follow-up. Contemp Soc Sci 11(2–3):203–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Raum O, Røed K (2006) Do business cycle conditions at the time of labor market entry affect future employment prospects? Rev Econ Stat 88(2):193–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Reneflot A, Evensen M (2014) Unemployment and psychological distress among young adults in the Nordic countries: a review of the literature. Int J Soc Welf 23(1):3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ryan P (2001) The school-to-work transition: a cross-national perspective. J econ lit 39(1):34–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sarfati H (2013) Coping with the unemployment crisis in Europe. Int Labor Rev 152(1):145–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Scheve K, Stasavage D (2006) Religion and preferences for social insurance. Q J Polit Sci 1(3):255–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schioppa FKP, Lupi C (2002) Family income and wealth, youth unemployment and active labour market policies. Int Rev Appl Econ 16(4):407–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Shapiro C, Stiglitz JE (1984) Equilibrium unemployment as a worker discipline device. Am Econ Rev 74(3):433–444Google Scholar
  64. Skedinger P (2010) Employment protection legislation: evolution, effects, winners and losers. Edward Elgar Publishing, CheltenhamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Tanveer Choudhry M, Marelli E, Signorelli M (2012) Youth unemployment rate and impact of financial crises. Int J Manpow 33(1):76–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tomić I (2018) What drives youth unemployment in Europe? Economic vs. non‐economic determinants. Int Labour Rev 157(3):379–408Google Scholar
  67. Tosun J, Unt M, Wadensjö E (2017) Youth-oriented active labour market policies: explaining policy effort in the nordic and the baltic states. Soc Policy Adm 51(4):598–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tosun J, Arco-Tirdao JL, Caserta M, Cemalcilar Z, Freitag M, Hörisch F, Jensen C, Kittel B, Littvay L, Lukeš M, Maloney WA, Mühlböck M, Rainsford E, Rapp C, Schuck B, Shore J, Steiber N, Sümer N, Tsakoglou P, Vancea M, Vegetti F (2018) Perceived economic self-sufficiency: a country- and generation-comparative approach. Eur Polit Sci. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Van Hoorn A, Maseland R (2013) Does a Protestant work ethic exist? Evidence from the well-being effect of unemployment. J Econ Behav Organ 91:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Vancea M, Utzet M (2017) How unemployment and precarious employment affect the health of young people: a scoping study on social determinants. Scand J Public Health 45(1):73–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Vancea M, Utzet M (2018) School-to-work transition: the case of Spanish NEETs. J Youth Stud. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Vasilescu MD, Cristescu A (2016) The determinants of youth unemployment: a microeconomic approach. In: Vision 2020: innovation management, development sustainability, and competitive economic growth, pp 1361–1370Google Scholar
  73. Weber M (1920) The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, 3rd edn. Roxbury Publishing, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  74. Weil SW, Wildemeersch D, Percy-Smith B (2017) Unemployed youth and social exclusion in Europe: learning for inclusion?. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wooldridge JM (2010) Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. MIT press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  76. World Bank (2017) Database. Accessed on 10 Aug 2017

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Entrepreneurship, Faculty of Business AdministrationUniversity of Economics, PraguePrague 3Czech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Political and Social SciencesUniversitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations