School-to-work transitions (STWT) in Latin American Countries


School-to-work transitions (STWT) have been studied from a perspective that enables us to consider the individual and institutional factors involved in this transition. This is how the institutions like education and the labor market interact with what different individuals decide to do within these transitions. It is a perspective that allows considering the interaction between individuals and institutions (Allmendinger, 1989; Gangl, 2001; Shavit et al., 1998). Work constitutes a fundamental part of individuals´ life and is an important generator of individual and social welfare. Globally, youngsters tend to have more fragility in labor markets. Work quality includes the aspects that make work ultimately generate welfare. This project aims to analyze the different initial career paths of youngsters in labor markets of different socio-economical systems and to explain the trajectories by educational factors as well as the classical inequality socio-demographic factors (gender, social class, and ethnicity) and other relevant aspects in the transition to adulthood and aspects that shape labor markets. Persons on the path to adulthood decide and act based on personal but also institutional, economic, and cultural reasons.

This perspective is closely related to comparative analysis mainly because allows us to contrast empirically if different institutional patterns generate different individual outputs, in this specific case STWT. This project follows a long sociological tradition of considering individual and environmental factors in the trajectories of education and the labor market. Therefore, this sociological approach lays also in the analytical importance of country case comparison.

Nevertheless, this research has focused almost exclusively on STWTs in advanced industrialized countries, while research on low or middle-income countries, also called the global south, is still very scarce (see review by Nilsson 2019). Few studies examine STWTs in the Caucasus and Central Asia (Gebel, 2020), the Middle East (Gebel & Heyne, 2016; Heyne & Gebel, 2016), some Latin American countries (Menezes dos Santos et al. 2021; Parrado 2005), or countries in the “developing world” (Manacorda et al. 2017). STWTs in less advanced economies face particular challenges, e.g., higher poverty rates and high shares of informal and agricultural employment.

This dissertation project aims to contribute to filling this gap by analyzing the STWTs in some Latin American countries. This region has experienced a major educational expansión in a more straightened economic context which brings another empirical scenario to the STWTs' understanding

To achieve this, existing quantitative cross-sectional data and longitudinal data from LA countries are employed. The objective is to analyze both the institutional more country-case aspects of the education and labor market articulation, as well as the course life perspective of the young population that experience this transition. These STWTs análisis will be contrasted and complemented by relevant studies from advanced economies to include the Latin American countries in a comparative framework. Key variables of interest will include educational attainments, skill development, vocational training, labor market participation rates, employment types, and career trajectories of the young population. By examining disparities and similarities between Latin American countries and advanced economies, the project seeks to highlight better describe and explain particularly STWts in Latin America but more broadly deepen the understanding of STWts as a whole.


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Gebel, M. (2020). Young Women’s Transition from Education to Work in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 688(1), 137–154.

Gebel, M., & Heyne, S. (2016). Delayed transitions in times of increasing uncertainty: School-to-work transition and the delay of first marriage in Jordan. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 46, 61–72.

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Manacorda, M., Rosati, F. C., Ranzani, M., & Dachille, G. (2017). Pathways from school to work in the developing world. IZA Journal of Labor & Development, 6(1), 1.

Menezes dos Santos, M., Lanza Queiroz, B., & De Andrade Verona, A. P. (2021). Transition to adulthood in Latin America: 1960s-2010s. Revista Brasileira de Estudos de População, 38, 1–11.

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Parrado, E. A. (2005). Economic Restructuring and Intra-generational Class Mobility in Mexico. Social Forces, 84(2), 733–757.

Shavit, Y., & Müller, W. (Hrsg.). (1998). From school to work: A comparative study of educational qualifications and occupational destinations. Clarendon Press ; Oxford University Press.

Research Grant for Doctoral Program in Germany by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst)