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The Hidden Social Costs of Precarious Employment: Parental Co-Residence, Marriage Timing, and Political Participation During Young Adulthood


Precarious employment—that is, jobs that entail a nonstandard contract, are short term, and/or do not provide fringe benefits like health insurance and retirement savings—has become a widely discussed topic in the media and a key research topic among scholars. Despite increasing scholarly and public interest in precarious employment, however, few studies have considered the effects of such employment beyond typical work and career outcomes. Using longitudinal panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, this study examines the effect of precarious employment on the social and political lives of contemporary young adults. The first chapter reviews the literature on the rise of precarious employment and the parallel phenomenon of delayed adulthood. The second chapter investigates the effects of precarious employment on parental co-residence and moving back home during young adulthood. I find evidence that nonstandard employment, short tenure, no employer-provided health insurance, and no employer-provided retirement benefits results in greater likelihood of living at home with parents. The third chapter analyzes the effects of precarious employment among young adults on having a first marriage. Here too, I find evidence that all four forms of precarious employment have negative effects on having a first marriage by the normative age. The fourth chapter assesses how precarious employment impacts political participation during young adulthood. Findings suggest that young adults that experience nonstandard employment are no less likely to be politically active than their peers with formal employment, but those that experience short tenure and no employer-provided benefits are less likely to vote, attend political meetings, and donate money to a cause. The fifth chapter discusses the theoretical and policy implications of these findings.

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