This study examines how poor labor market opportunities discourage youth between the ages of 15 and 24 and 15 to 29 from participating in the labor market in the European Union between 2005 and 2013. A critical portion of inactive NEETs (youth not in employment, education, or training) reports to be discouraged due to a recognized "lack of opportunities in the labor market." Despite indications from descriptive analyses that the conditions that drive the distinct subsets of the NEET population vary, empirical examinations of the effects of these conditions on the rates of different NEET groups across countries and over time are lacking. The policies prescribed for the NEET group as a whole tend to ignore the special needs of discouraged, inactive NEETs. Beyond the fundamental problem of engaging these individuals in the labor market, neglecting this group has a variety of implications, ranging from social exclusion, to poverty, and even radicalism. A central goal of this project is to determine what a recognized "lack of opportunities" means. What is known concretely is that fellow youth are increasingly vulnerable to a range of labor market outcomes and conditions beyond unemployment, including difficulty transitioning into the labor market (school-to-work transitions), in-work poverty risk, non-standard employment opportunities (involuntary and voluntary), limited ability to transition into secure employment (i.e. upward mobility), lower wage levels, atypical employment, limited job security and support, and long-term unemployment. Utilizing aggregated survey data from the EU Labor Force Survey and EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions, I examine how a range of labor market outcomes and conditions for youth, representative of the poor labor market opportunities, affect the frequency of discouraged NEETs across 24 EU countries between 2005 and 2013. Findings suggest that the incidence of involuntary non-standard work, in-work poverty risk, and atypical employment among fellow youth and the incidence of decreased work security among the adult working age population are associated with an increase in discouraged, inactive NEETs. This suggests that engaging this hard to reach subgroup of the NEET population requires a greater emphasis on creating improved labor market opportunities.


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Graduation Date





Hamann, Kerstin


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science









Release Date

May 2017

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)