Cumulative exposure to childhood adversity is associated with a variety of labour market outcomes in young adulthood. It remains largely unclear whether the type of adversity matters in this association. This prospective study examined the differences in exposure to 14 adverse experiences among groups of young adults aged 22 characterised by distinct labour market participation states and employment conditions.
We used data from the TRacking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey, a Dutch prospective cohort study with 15 years of follow-up (N=1524). We included 14 adverse experiences (ages 0–16) across five domains: peer influences, loss or threat of loss, material deprivation, family dynamics and maltreatment. Labour market participation states and employment conditions were assessed at age 22. We used latent class analysis to derive labour market outcome groups, which we subsequently compared on exposure to adverse experiences using pairwise comparisons.
Inactive individuals (n=85, 5.6%), often neither in education (77.4%) nor employment (98.6%) and on benefits (94.4%), were more likely to be exposed to many distinct types of adverse experiences (eg, parental addiction, bullying victimisation) as compared with all other groups. Early workers (n=413, 27.1%), often on temporary contracts and low monthly incomes, were more likely to be exposed to parental divorce (22.7%) compared with students with side jobs (12.9%).
Different adverse experiences are not equally associated with labour market outcomes. Researchers and stakeholders in policy and practice should be aware of the differences between adverse experiences in their importance for labour market outcomes in young adults.