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The impact of modernization and labor market conditions on the school-to-work transition in Switzerland: A dynamic analysis of the period from 1946 to 2002

Zangger, Christoph; Glauser, David; Becker, Rolf (2018). The impact of modernization and labor market conditions on the school-to-work transition in Switzerland: A dynamic analysis of the period from 1946 to 2002. In: Tillmann, Robin; Voorpostel, Marieke; Farago, Peter (eds.) Social Dynamics in Swiss Society. Life Course Research and Social Policies (pp. 145-159). Cham: Springer 10.5167/uzh-156811

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The transition from the education system into the labor market is a significant and sensitive phase in the life course of young generations given the long-term consequences of work history and impact on future opportunities (Blossfeld 1985, 1987; DiPrete et al. 2001). It is undisputed that the school-to-work transition depends on individual resources, such as social background and attained educational qualification (Buchmann and Sacchi 1998; Jann and Combet 2012; R. Becker and Zangger 2013) and on the structure and organization of the education and the employment system as well as their institutional linkage (Allmendinger 1989; Kerckhoff 1995; Shavit and Müller 2000; Wolbers 2007). In addition, opportunities to attain specific educational credentials and returns to investments in education at the beginning of the occupational career vary over time (e.g., Blau and Duncan 1967). They affect the patterns of labor market entry and the status attainment in the course of people’s occupational career, and indicate the openness of the class structure across birth cohorts (Blossfeld 1987; Sørensen 1986; Shavit and Müller 1998). However, this time dependency of these trajectories has often been neglected in previous empirical research. Therefore, there is limited information on the probability and process through which individuals accept profitable employment and the social status they achieve when they enter the labor market. In addition, it is important to understand how these factors are related to (1) the long-term social changes with respect to modernization (e.g., educational expansion, tertiarization of professions and industries, and increasing social welfare), (2) the economic business cycles in the post-war period (e.g., boom periods, recessions resulting from oil price shocks, dot- com and real estate bubbles, financial and bank crises), and (3) the fluctuating state of the labor market (e.g., decrease in full time employment, increasing youth unemployment). In this chapter, the transition of different birth cohorts into the labor market is reconstructed as a dynamic process that is time-dependent on the (a) transition duration from the education system to the first job (age or life-cycle effect), (b) period-specific changes of labor market conditions, the level of modernity in the economy, and the social structure after completing education (period effect), and (c) the economic and social conditions at the time of achieving educational qualifications (cohort effect). The age-period-cohort (APC) analysis aims to answer the following questions with respect to Switzerland in the period from 1946 to 2002: (1) What is the role of the modernization trend and economic business cycles in determining the speed of transition and the likelihood of attaining a prestigious job? (2) Are there still direct effects of social background and educational qualification across cohorts on the likelihood of graduates starting their career and achieving status in their first jobs if the modernization trend and economic business cycle are taken into account? (3) Despite the increasing uncertainty due to globalization and labor market competition, are the institutional arrangements of the education system and its linkage to the labor markets effective in providing “safety roads” for young professionals to start their career? The remainder of this contribution is organized as follows. In the next section, the theoretical background is briefly outlined. Subsequently, the data, operationalization of the variables, methodological design, and statistical procedure are presented. The empirical results are discussed in the fourth section and the findings are summarized in the final concluding section.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)

PHBern Contributor:

Zangger, Christoph


Life Course Research and Social Policies






Jessica Brunner

Date Deposited:

24 Nov 2022 11:06

Last Modified:

30 Nov 2022 09:08

Publisher DOI:





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