Conference Paper BHPS-2009 Conference: the 2009 British Household Panel Survey Research Conference, 9-11 July 2009, Colchester, UK
Growing up in the 1990s. An exploration of the educational experiences of cohorts of rising 16s in the BHPS
In the closing decades of the twentieth century there were dramatic changes in the landscape against which British young people grew up. In the UK in the decades immediately after World War II the majority of young people left education at the earliest opportunity. In more recent decades an increasing proportion of young people remained in education beyond the minimum school leaving age. The early 1980s there was a radical restructuring of the youth labour market. There was a dramatic decline in the number of suitable jobs for those leaving education at the minimum school leaving age and a sharp fall in the number of apprenticeships available. This was partly a consequence in the decline in the manufacturing in Britain. Policy responses directed toward problems in youth employment led to the widespread introduction of training schemes, and at the same time young peoples entitlements to welfare benefits contracted. Provision in further education and later university education expanded. Our starting position is that changes in the economy, education and training lead us to suspect that the umbrella of social and economic conditions under which young people grew up during the 1990s were sufficiently different from those a decade before to justify exploration. In the UK there was a gap in collecting birth cohort data and no new large-scale birth cohort data was collected between 1970 and the Millennium. This means that there is very limited survey data available on young people growing up in the 1990s. In this paper we demonstrate that the BHPS has the potential to provide some useful insights and can partly plug the gap in youth data resources. In the paper we construct a series of synthetic cohorts of rising 16s. These are young people in BHPS households that grew up and entered the adult BHPS survey. We illustrate how these cohorts can usefully be used to explore educational and employment experiences. We attempt to exploit the structure of the BHPS data and link the young persons data with parental, family and household information. We are aware that the synthetic rising 16s cohorts are small samples and not necessarily nationally representative. Therefore we also use supplementary data from the Youth Cohort Study of England and Wales to compare and contrast results.