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A stalled generation?

Flats and street
Researchers: Shanna Christie
Published: June 2012


We looked into how the transition from youth to adulthood in Scotland is changing, particularly in the context of the recent economic downturn. We explored unemployment levels in both graduates & non-graduates, participation in Higher Education, living arrangements and family formation.


More young people are unemployed or working part-time.

The unemployment rate for young people (aged 16 to 29) rose from 9% in 2007/08 (just before the financial crisis) to 15% in 2010/11. Interestingly unemployment rates amongst those aged 25 to 29, while still lower overall than those in their late teens and early twenties, rose from 4.7% to 8.4% during the same period. This raised some important questions about what ‘young person’ means and what are the cut-off ages for this age bracket.   

Of those young people in employment, part-time work also seemed to be on the rise with over a third (33.7%) of young people (aged 16-29) working part-time (compared with 27.3% in 2007/08).

Youth unemployment in Scotland does not only affect recent school leavers.

The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year old degree holders increased from 8.3% in 2008/09 to 12.3% in 2010/11 suggesting that some younger, more inexperienced graduates are struggling to get a foothold in the job market. This is particularly the case when they are compared with slightly older graduates (25 to29 year olds) where unemployment rates have been fairly stable, and low over this period. However while slightly older graduates are less likely to be unemployed, it’s not necessarily the case that they are in jobs that fit with their career plans and qualifications.

The change in transition has been most significant in young women.

The increase in the number of women claiming Jobseekers Allowance was significant and recent figures suggest that fewer women (than their male counterparts) have come off the benefit since the beginning of the economic recovery.


Through secondary analysis of existing datasets, we are able to examine hidden vulnerability among those aged 16-29 in a specifically Scottish context. These datasets include the Scottish Household Survey, the Annual Population Survey, the Labour Force Survey and the Scottish Funding Council's API index.

Read the report