Locked in Transition: Youth Labor Markets during COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, Norway, Estonia, and Spain

Jacqueline O’Reilly, Marge Unt, Rune Halvorsen, Mi Ah Schoyen, Rachel Verdin, Triin Roosalu and Zyab Ibáñez (2023)

Book chapter published in European Social Policy and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges to National Welfare and EU Policy (2023), Stefanie Börner and Martin Seeleib-Kaiser

In this chapter we aim to outline to what extent short-term effects created by the pandemic disrupted path-dependent policy regimes for youth in four European countries. It also seeks to understand if there has been a perceptible change attributable to longer-run developments in digitalization. Young people in education, along with those working or looking for work, were locked in their transitions mediated by digital technologies. This exacerbated and unveiled long-term existing inequalities for young people and their families. However, there has been considerable variation across countries in the timing, duration, and strictness of public policies to combat the pandemic. We identified how these policies reinforced some elements of social policy path dependency while also creating significant disruption in the context of the emerging digital economy, a reinforcement of reliance on the family in some cases, and an increasing level of polarization between different types of households. These cases of the United Kingdom, Norway, Estonia, and Spain illustrate the distinctive and comparable challenges that arise as a result of the pandemic with regard to how social policy addresses the issues of income maintenance and skill development in the digital age.

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