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Socio-economic inequality in the early career: the role of family and community -PhD thesis-


Publication date

Aug 2016


In this thesis I study how socio-economic background – seen as the socio-economic conditions while growing up and the resources someone has access to – affects the labour market outcomes of young adults. Through three distinct chapters I show that young adults from a disadvantaged background are substantially less likely to be employed and when employed tend to find worse jobs than their more advantaged peers, even when keeping education constant. I first discuss how being out of work is transmitted over generations in the UK. Children whose father did not work are substantially less likely to be employed themselves and tend to work fewer hours, but are no different in earnings or contract. I show how this may be partly due to differences in how work is experienced. A disadvantaged background does not always pose the same limits to labour market opportunity. I show that in Germany background does not negatively affect labour market outcomes during good economic times, but becomes more important as labour market conditions worsen. In the final chapter I study ethnic penalties in the labour market. Ethnic minorities in the UK are highly qualified but even among British university graduates there are ethnic penalties in employment and – to a lesser extent – in earnings. Having access to support and assistance through socio-economically advantaged parents or a highly-skilled co-ethnic community can shelter young ethnic minority graduates. Those who lack these resources are at a substantial disadvantage. It is important to recognise the different ways in which disadvantage affects young adults and that differences exist even among those with similar qualifications. The main hurdle the disadvantaged face is finding employment which is where additional help could be offered to the disadvantaged.


Young People, Labour Market, Households, Unemployment, Ethnic Groups, and Social Stratification


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