Parental worklessness and the experience of NEET among their offspring. Evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE)


  • Ingrid Schoon Institute of Education



worklessness, intergenerational, socio-economic resources, achievement orientation, gender


This paper examines the assocations between parental worklessness and the experiences of their offspring making the transition from school to work during a time that included a major economic downturn. The study draws on data collected for the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE), a cohort of young people born in 1989/90 completing compulsory education in 2006 – just before the onset of the Great Recession. Data on parental worklessness collected between 2004 and 2006 was linked to information about subsequent employment activities of their offspring, in particular the experience of not being in education, employment or training (NEET) between 2007 and 2010 (ages 16 to 20 years). Parental worklessness was significantly associated with their sons’ and daughters’ experience of being NEET for longer periods of time (months spent in NEET). However, much of this association was explained by a number of other socio-economic risks facing these young people and their families (e.g. low parental education level, living in rented accommodation and in highly deprived neighbourhoods).  Furthermore, the role of individual agency, in particular educational achievement orientation (EAO) as a potential mediator was examined. Although parental worklessness was associated with lower levels of EAO, especially among young males, the findings also suggest that EAO can serve as a potential resource for young men and women in adverse economic circumstances. The study does not support the assumption of an inter-generational transmission of a ‘culture of worklessness’ but points to the role of multiple deprivations and lack of local opportunities in shaping the life chances of young people.

Author Biography

Ingrid Schoon, Institute of Education

Ingrid Schoon is Prof. of Human Development and Social Policy at the Institute of Education, University of London