The Transition Generation: Young people in school and work in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States
This paper focuses on the transition from school to labour market for the generation of young people in CEE/CIS who experienced the most turbulent years of the transition in their formative years. Using administrative data on school enrolment, as well as data from labour force surveys, the paper tracks the main trends in education enrollments in primary, lower and upper secondary, showing that the impact of the economic difficulties of the early 1990s was greater in the poorest countries of the region, and was reflected in particular in falling enrollments for the non-compulsory levels of education. The post-1998 period of economic recovery brought with it a marked divergence between upper secondary education enrollments in the Central and Eastern European countries, and the rest of the region. However, data on enrollments give only a partial picture of what happened to the school system during the transition; statistics on attendance and achievements from other data sources suggest that inequality in school access and quality increased both across the region and within countries. Education trends (using indicators measuring both quantity and quality) influence outcomes in the labour market, but can also be influenced by them: labour force surveys’ results show that young people in CEE/CIS face a high risk of unemployment or underemployment. At the same time, in particular in CEE, lack of employment opportunities encourages young people to stay longer in the education system. Mismatches between the outcomes of the education systems and labour market demand, as well as the character of recent economic growth, have resulted in significant imbalances in the labour market.
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