Youth - the future manpower: studies on unemployment, quality of life and work attitudes in young people

Lars Axelsson

    Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    The aim was to gain knowledge of experiences of unemployment in young adults with special regard to quality of life (QOL) and to highlight work attitudes and related factors among adolescents. Three studies were performed in Kristianstad municipality, Sweden. In Study 1, a questionnaire was sent in 1998 to 264 unemployed young adults (md=22 years, range 20?25) and to a control group of 528 randomly selected young adults who were studying or working. In Study 2, interviews with 16 unemployed young adults(md=22 years, range 20?24) were performed. In Study 3, 606 students in upper secondary school (md=18, range 18?22) were invited to participate in a questionnaire study. In Study 1, the prevalence of three or more mental health symptoms was 41% in males and 60% in females. Unemployed reported lower mental health than controls. In unemployed females, without very good parental support and with low self-esteem, 76% had three or more mental health problems. Unemployed had lower QOL than controls. However, this picture seemed diversified as 35% reported that QOL had become worse, 41% reported unchanged QOL and 24% reported that QOL had become better since unemployment started. In Study 2, the variation in experiences of unemployment was established in more depth by the qualitative research approach. Perception and action were constituents of QOL among unemployed young adults and QOL was regarded as an outcome of these two dimensions. Perception and action varied greatly, and four groups with substantial differences in QOL were identified: fighters, optimists, exposed and unworried subjects. Study 3 focused on work attitudes. Two separate dimensions of work attitudes were found: work ethics (WE), including attitudes to using the social welfare system, and general work attitudes (GWA), including the general attitude towards work and life as a context. Being female, having very positive work experiences, having good QOL, high SOC and good subjective health were positively related to WE. Being female, studying on a practical programme, being content with the school period, having high SOC and very good parental support were positively related to GWA. This thesis shows that unemployment is experienced in various ways, and these experiences are not only negative. Individual factors such as QOL, SOC, health and parental support are of importance to both unemployment experiences and attitudes to work. Consequently, when the purpose is to increase young adults? possibilities to participate in working life, it can be argued that strategies where the focus is on the individual perspective instead of the collective approach are relevant.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

    Swedish Standard Keywords

    • Work Sciences (50903)


    • adolescents
    • health
    • quality of life
    • self-esteem
    • sense of coherence
    • social support
    • unemployment
    • work attitudes
    • work ethics
    • young adults


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