Disputation: Anna Kahlmeter försvarar sin avhandling

Anna Kahlmeter, doktorand i sociologi vid Institutet för social forskning (SOFI) och Sociologiska institutionen försvarar sin avhandling i sociologi “Stressful life events and risks for social exclusion in the youth-to-adulthood transition – Findings from Swedish longitudinal data”.



Disputation: Anna Kahlmeter

Avhandlingens titel: “Stressful life events and risks for social exclusion in the youth-to-adulthood transition – Findings from Swedish longitudinal data”
Tid: 21 oktober, 10:00
Plats: Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Stockholms universitet


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Keywords: Youth-to-adulthood transition, young adults, stressful life events, labour market, educational attainment, social exclusion, housing instability, economic hardship, social assistance, violent victimization



Family background and childhood conditions have long held a special position in the academic literature as an explanation for young people’s life chances. Less attention has been paid to circumstances and events on the cusp of adulthood. This thesis aims to improve the understanding of how stressful life events are associated with future trajectories of education and labour market attachment. The thesis comprises three empirical studies, all of which draw on longitudinal micro data from Swedish administrative registers.

Study I examines different types of housing instability events, among students in upper secondary school still in the parental nest, focusing on non-forced moves as well as eviction threats and forced relocations. It assesses the association between housing instability and educational attainment, operationalized as graduation from upper secondary school. The results suggest that the instability and stress following forced relocations, repeated relocations and long-distance relocations are of particular significance for understanding the link between housing instability and educational outcomes. Single short-distance relocations seem to have little impact on educational success. Findings also indicate that eviction threats, where a forced relocation was arrested, still may have implications for educational attainment. However, sensitivity tests showed that these estimates were not robust to confounding. Averting an eviction, even at this late stage of housing instability, may thus protect against early school leaving. Further research is however needed.

Study II follows young individuals from the time of their residential emancipation and maps their labour market establishment trajectories until their mid-thirties, by means of sequence analysis. It then investigates to what extent the experience of economic hardship, measured as different degrees of social assistance receipt, is associated with adverse labour market trajectories. The results indicate that, for a majority of social assistance recipients, the system works as intended, and they transition to education or work rather swiftly, particularly if economic hardship is brief. Extensive hardship, however, is associated with elevated risks of long-term labour market exclusion that persists well into adulthood.

Study III draws on register data for 12 complete successive cohorts and examines the link between severe violent victimization in young adulthood and labour market exclusion at ages 25 and 30. It puts particular emphasis on the moderating role of offending and gender. The findings suggest that victimized women are a particularly disadvantaged group, having faced a range of social and financial strain. Female victims of violent crime also face elevated risks of labour market exclusion, both in the short- and the long-term, and regardless of criminal offending. For men, however, violent offending moderates the association. While violent victimization adds to the risk of labour market exclusion for male violent offenders, male non-offenders display no elevated risks.

Taken together, the thesis demonstrates that the experience of these life events in the transition from youth to adulthood place young individuals at heightened risk of educational shortfall and exclusion from the labour market, both in the immediate aftermath and later in life. Implications of the findings are that a long-term perspective is warranted in considerations of both preventive and reactive measures.