Young labor market entrants, disproportionately affected by employment flexibilization, are vulnerable to job and employment insecurity. Insecurity during the transition from education to employment can take various forms, such as worrying about job loss, receiving temporary contracts, or struggling to find a job all. Job insecurity (i.e., threats to job continuity) and employment insecurity (i.e., threats to continuous employment across jobs) may have negative consequences for health and well-being. This thesis investigates patterns of job and employment insecurity, their antecedents, and consequences for health and well-being among young adults. Three studies based on the German Socio-Economic Panel were conducted.
Study I investigated the relative importance of temporary employment and perceived job insecurity in predicting health and well-being among young workers, as well as the moderating role of education. Only perceived job insecurity was associated with lower mental health, job and life satisfaction. The association of perceived job insecurity with mental health was most pronounced among young workers with vocational training. Study II investigated patterns of development (i.e., trajectories) of perceived job insecurity and their respective associations with predictors and outcomes across six years upon labor market entry. Temporary entry jobs, private sector employment, lower than tertiary education, and previous unemployment predicted less favorable trajectories. In turn, less secure trajectories were associated with lower self-rated health, job and life satisfaction. Study III investigated trajectories of employment insecurity, ranging from permanent employment over temporary employment to being NEET (not in employment, education or training). Young men, mothers, migrants, school leavers without vocational qualifications, but in part also university graduates, were at risk of experiencing repeated temporary employment and labor market exclusion. Less secure trajectories were associated with lower and deteriorating health and life satisfaction.
This thesis provides novel insights into heterogeneous trajectories of job and employment insecurity, associated social risk factors, and consequences for health and well-being. The findings suggest that accounting for different indicators of insecurity, as well as for timing and duration in patterns of development can advance our understanding of insecurity in the transition from education to employment. Job and employment insecurity appear as salient stressors among young adults. Employers and policy makers should be aware of potential negative health effects of flexible employment, and work towards preventing labor market exclusion and providing young adults with sustainable entry paths into employment.