Not participating in education, employment or training (NEET): hope to mitigate new social risks in the UK?

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

October 15, 2022


Young people not participating in education, employment or training (NEET) are a key policy concern in Europe. In this study, we bring forward the idea of hope as a form of life course agency to examine whether hopeful thinking plays a protective role against the risk of being NEET in the context of the British welfare state. Hope is conceptualised as multidimensional: being a temporally embedded, agentic mentality comprised of one’s sense of adaptive decision-making in the present and pathways-thinking towards the future. Longitudinal estimations based on the latest Understanding Society microdata (2009–19) indicate a direct association between higher-hope modes, on average, and a lower likelihood of being NEET. Further, interaction models assess whether hopeful agency is moderated by the experience of parental worklessness. Findings indicate that hopeful agency is shown to be important in the face of NEET risks borne of family background. For the UK, building and ensuring that young people maintain an adaptive, agentic mentality towards their future in education or employment over the long term, may prove one cost-effective policy approach.

Published in

Longitudinal and Life Course Studies

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 13 , p.596 -620







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