Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

The relationship between economic precariousness and union formation of young British adults

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Day:Wed 3 Jul
  • Lydia Palumbo, Max Planck Institut

Youth precariousness has gained central importance in the life-course literature due to the increasing economic uncertainty faced by young adults. This paper analyzes the association between economic precariousness and union formation, here defined as the entry into marriage or cohabitation. Theoretical considerations suggest that precariousenss delays or prevents young adults’ union formation. Empirical studies show ambiguous results, as researchers often consider selected aspects of precariousness, such as past unemployment or occupational traits. This research evaluates and compares the appropriateness and the limits of different measures of precariousness, both objective and subjective, and how they relate to the transition to union of young adults in Britain. The empirical analysis is performed by using longitudinal data from BHPS and UKHLS, spanning from 1991 to 2017. The sample consists of respondents aged 18-35, who are not in a co-residential partnership and might form one. Our indicators of precariousness include individuals’ wealth and occupational status, income level and contract type; saving behavior; receipt of institutional benefits; feelings and expectations towards the financial situation. Results computed through logistic models show that objective measures of precariousness present a negative relationship with union formation, as expected; while subjective indicators result more ambiguous probably due to the sample heterogeneity depending on age. In fact, interactions between measures of precariousness and age sub-groups suggest that those aged 25-29 present different patterns of association with union formation compared to the other individuals in the sample, younger or older. Results also show the presence of a gender-gradient, but not a period one.