Youth transitions and education in contemporary Scotland

Susan Murray, Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling

This was a small-scale project to create a specialist data resource from the Scottish booster sample of the British Household Panel Survey on youth transitions and education, involving collaboration between Susan Murray, in the Department of Applied Social Science, and Professor John Field, in the Institute of Education.

Research into youth transitions and the intergenerational transmission of inequality continue to be current issues with far reaching implications. Yet, there is an absence of a specialist data resource on youth transitions and education that supports secondary data analyses of youth people growing up in contemporary Scotland. Funded by the AQMeN Collaborative Small Grant Scheme Data, Susan Murray constructed a unified specialist data resource using data collected in the Living in Scotland Survey (the Scottish booster sample) which forms part of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS).

The project focused on the ‘rising 16s’ in the BHPS. These are young people in BHPS households who have ‘aged’ into the scope of the adult survey. The project’s overall aim was to construct ‘synthetic cohorts’ of young people from BHPS households as they came to the end of compulsory education and either continued in education or moved into the world of employment and other activities. The ‘rising 16s’ here refer specifically to those young adults, answering their first (and subsequent) full adult interview, who have also been enumerated (or given a youth interview) as members of BHPS households prior to their entry into the BHPS main adult sample. This property was attractive since it allows us to collect accurate retrospective (as well as prospective) data on these young people.

The research contributed findings on young people’s experiences of education and the labour market in order to examine contemporary patterns of social inequality in Scotland. Evidence from Susan’s doctoral thesis, using English and Welsh data, suggests that differences in family and household composition have some measurable influences on educational attainment and early labour market outcomes. The project documented how these patterns relate to the wider issue of social inequality in contemporary Scotland. The empirical research involved the use of advanced statistical methods.

It was anticipated that depositing a new panel dataset of youth transitions would be beneficial as it would facilitate further secondary analyses of the Living in Scotland data by other researchers. In addition, a special seminar was organised to present the new dataset to members of the social survey research community.