Labor Market Experiences and Transitions to Adulthood.

September 2006

Carolyn J. Hill, Georgetown University and Harry J. Holzer, Georgetown University.

Download 'working_paper06-32.pdf'.


This paper analyzes labor market behaviors for young adults, their changing patterns for cohorts that are twenty years apart, and their associations with transitions to adulthood as measured by living with parents, being married, or cohabiting. We analyze these issues using data from the 1979 and 1997 cohorts of National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), specifically focusing on young people ages 20-22 in 1984 and 2002. Consistent with data from other sources, we find that youth in the later cohort tend to live at home or cohabit with greater frequency, but to marry less frequently, than those in the earlier cohort. These findings can be observed among youth in all education/enrollments groups and all race/gender groups. Regression analyses show evidence of some link between contemporaneous labor market outcomes and living arrangements, but these effects are too small to account for changes over time in these behaviors. We also find some relationships between academic and labor market outcomes as well as risky behaviors of youth during high school, on the one hand; and later labor market outcomes and living arrangements, on the other. These suggest the presence of unmeasured characteristics (like independence, maturity and the like) that help to account for differences across individuals in their living arrangements as young adults.

Employment, Unemployment, and the Labor Market, Young Adults and the Transition to Adulthood