Education-work aspirations and challenges in the post-socialist country: dynamics of alternative transition to adulthood trajectories

Iga Sikorska, Warsaw School of Economics

Taking into consideration the changing socio-economic situation, increasing awareness of the challenges, the pattern of leaving of the parental home, and in particular its changes, seem to encourage several adaptive behaviours among young adults. The collapse of socialism significantly changed the situation of people entering the adult life, who faced instability of the beginning of market economy, corresponding instability of the labour market, growing unemployment, low income levels or problems on the housing market that significantly hindered independence. General uncertainty was the main reason for the postponement of the decision concerning family formation, which in Poland was the main reason for leaving parental home. Political changes had awakened expectations of the society that resulted in the general growth of life aspirations in both spheres: economic and social and lead to development of new strategies and patterns of becoming independent. The main goal of this paper is to present various alternative trajectories of early life cycle events, focusing on the education enrolment and first entrance on the labour market. Easier access to education, its popularization on the over-secondary level, new opportunities on the labour market, comprised sufficient incentives to develop new dynamic approaches to reconcile education, work, family and independence. Social networks and intergenerational transfers can be sources of social patterns but also valuable resources that help to reduce costs of becoming independent. This influence is primarily exerted by the number of parents in the networks, their socio-economic status and attitudes towards supporting financially or facilitating their children in other ways but can also be sources of valuable resources like time, physical strength, assistance, goods, services, or power. The second purpose is to describe pace and speed of the changes as well as to point out the major gender differences in the behaviors of consecutive generations of young Poles.

Presented in Session 46: Intra-country variations in the transition to adulthood