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Purpose – Our study focuses on the impacts of young adults’ financial situation and agency on success and satisfaction regarding developmental tasks (attainments in…
Purpose – Our study focuses on the impacts of young adults’ financial situation and agency on success and satisfaction regarding developmental tasks (attainments in educational, work and social domains) in the context of economic upheavals.
Methodology/approach – The study is part of the longitudinal Finnish Educational Transitions Studies (FinEdu), in which high school students (N=614 at baseline) participated once before and three times after graduation (ages 19–25) while progressing to tertiary education and employment.
Findings – Agency (indicated by achievement and social approach strategies) increased, whereas achievement and social avoidance decreased from ages 19 to 25. Financial situation improved from an objective but not subjective perspective. Both high and increasing levels of agency were related to high levels of success and satisfaction regarding developmental tasks at age 25. In particular, social approach was related to educational attainment, sense of belonging, and romantic relationship satisfaction. High initial levels of agency and an improved financial situation predicted low economic pressure at age 25.
Research implications – Both sociopolitical structures and individual agency are important in shaping life course transitions in early adulthood. The apparent discrepancy between the macro-level national economic recession and young adults’ relatively high economic satisfaction could be explained by high agency in a welfare state context.
Social implications – The study shows important links between individuals’ life course and the societal context of Finland, a secure Nordic welfare state in the midst of global economic upheavals.
Originality/value of paper – Our longitudinal study makes a significant contribution to life course research by comprehensively conceptualizing the developmental tasks and considering their individual and social determinants.
Clifford Broman is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Michigan State University. His general research area is psychosocial factors in physical and emotional health. Recent research has focused on the role of race/ethnicity in substance use; psychosocial stress; and family formation behaviors and attitudes among African-Americans. His recent publications have appeared in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Race and Social Problems, and Psychological Services.