Youth Unemployment and Career Scarring: Social-Psychological Mediating Effects?

  • Harvey Krahn University of Alberta
  • Angela Chow University of Alberta
Keywords: Youth Unemployment, Scarring, Quality of Employment, Self-esteem, Perceived Control, Work Values


Unemployment has career scarring effects for adults, and sometimes for youth, but previous research has not directly demonstrated how this occurs. This 14-year (1985-99) longitudinal study reveals that cumulative unemployment between age 18 and age 32 has a negative effect on both total income and quality of employment at age 32. This scarring effect is not mediated by parallel changes in self-esteem, perceived control or extrinsic work values. Labour market mechanisms, rather than social psychological processes, are likely responsible for the career scarring effect of youth unemployment.

Author Biographies

Harvey Krahn, University of Alberta
Professor, Department of Sociology
Angela Chow, University of Alberta
Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Psychology