Insecure Right from the Start? Socialization Effects of Parental Self-Perceived Job Insecurity

  • Christiane LübkeEmail author
Part of the Children’s Well-Being: Indicators and Research book series (CHIR, volume 20)


The paper studies whether and how parental self-perceived job insecurity induced by economic crisis influences the vocational development of their adolescent children. The analyses based on data of the German Socio-Economic Panel revealed that adolescents whose parents were worried about their job stability are more pessimistic when asked to estimate their likelihood of being unemployed and their likelihood of being professionally successful and of getting ahead later in life. After controlling for sociodemographic factors of the parents and for the children’s previous success in school, which represents their objective opportunities on the labor market, the intergenerational effects of parental job loss worries remained significant in multivariate analyses. Irrespective of their actual labor market chances, it appears that the 17-year-olds whose parents were worried about their job stability were insecure right from the start about their future employment prospects. This finding suggests that there was a socialization effect of self-perceived job insecurity through which the parents’ job loss worries were transmitted to their children and shaped their adolescent children’s career expectations.


Children Youth Crises Job insecurity Socialization Families 


  1. Acock, A. C., & Bengtson, V. L. (1978). On the relative influence of mothers and fathers: A covariance analysis of political and religious socialization. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 40(3), 519–530. Scholar
  2. Anderson, C. J., & Pontusson, J. (2007). Workers, worries and welfare states: Social protection and job insecurity in 15 OECD countries. European Journal of Political Research, 46(2), 211–235. Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  4. Barling, J., & Mendelson, M. B. (1999). Parents job insecurity affects children’s grade performance through the indirect effects of beliefs in an unjust world and negative mood. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 4(4), 347–355.$3.00
  5. Barling, J., Dupre, K. E., & Hepburn, C. G. (1998). Effects of parents job insecurity on children’s work beliefs and attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(1), 112–118. Scholar
  6. Barling, J., Zacharatos, A., & Hepburn, C. G. (1999). Parents’ job insecurity affects children’s academic performance through cognitive difficulties. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(3), 437–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bengtson, V. L., Biblarz, T. J., & Roberts, R. E. L. (2002). How families still matter: A longitudinal study of youth in two generations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Berglund, T., Furaker, B., & Vulkan, P. (2014). Is job insecurity compensated for by employment and income security? Economic and Industrial Democracy, 35(1), 165–184. Scholar
  9. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1986). Ecology of the family as a context for human development: Research perspectives. Developmental Psychology, 22(6), 723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bünning, M. (2015). What happens after the ‘daddy months’? Fathers’ involvement in paid work, childcare, and housework after taking parental leave in Germany. European Sociological Review, 31(6), 738–748. Scholar
  11. Burgard, S. A., Brand, J. E., & House, J. S. (2009). Perceived job insecurity and worker health in the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 69(5), 777–785. Scholar
  12. Campbell, D., Carruth, A., Dickerson, A., & Green, F. (2007). Job insecurity and wages. The Economic Journal, 117(518), 544–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cheng, G. H.-L., & Chan, D. K.-S. (2008). Who suffers more from job insecurity? A meta-analytic review. Applied Psychology, 57(2), 272–303. Scholar
  14. De Witte, H., Pienaar, J., & De Cuyper, N. (2016). Review of 30 years of longitudinal studies on the association between job insecurity and health and well-being: Is there causal evidence? Australian Psychologist, 51(1), 18–31. Scholar
  15. Dickerson, A., & Green, F. (2012). Fears and realisations of employment insecurity. Labour Economics, 19(2), 198–210. Scholar
  16. Elder, G. H. (1974). Children of the great depression: Social change in life experience. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. Elder, G. H., & Johnson, M. K. (2003). The life course and aging: Challenges, lessons, and new directions. In R. A. Settersten (Ed.), Invitation to the life course: Toward new understandings of later life (pp. 49–81). Amityville: Baywood Publishing.Google Scholar
  18. Erlinghagen, M. (2008). Self-perceived job insecurity and social context: A multi-level analysis of 17 European countries. European Sociological Review, 24(2), 183–197. Scholar
  19. Erlinghagen, M. (2010). Mehr Angst vor Arbeitsplatzverlust seit Hartz?: Langfristige Entwicklung der Beschäftigungsunsicherheit in Deutschland. IAQ-Report(2010–02), pp. 1–12.Google Scholar
  20. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A., & Frijters, P. (2004). How important is methodology for the estimates of the determinants of happiness? The Economic Journal, 114(497), 641–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ganzeboom, H. B. G., De Graaf, P. M., & Treiman, D. J. (1992). A standard international socio-economic index of occupational status. Social Science Research, 21(1), 1–56. Scholar
  22. Greenhalgh, & Rosenblatt. (1984). Job insecurity: Toward conceptual clarity. Academy of Management Review, 9(3), 438–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Greenhalgh, L., & Rosenblatt, Z. (2010). Evolution of research on job insecurity. International Studies of Management and Organization, 40(1), 6–19. Scholar
  24. Hallerod, B. (2011). What do children know about their futures: Do Children’s expectations predict outcomes in middle age? Social Forces, 90(1), 65–83. Scholar
  25. Heaney, C. A., Israel, B. A., & House, J. S. (1994). Chronic job insecurity among automobile workers: Effects on job satisfaction and health. Social Science & Medicine, 38(10), 1431–1437. Scholar
  26. Hitlin, S., & Johnson, M. K. (2015). Reconceptualizing agency within the life course: The power of looking ahead. American Journal of Sociology, 120(5), 1429–1472. Scholar
  27. Hoff, E.-H. (1985). Berufliche Sozialisation. Zur Verbindung soziologischer und psychologischer Forschung. In E.-H. Hoff, L. Lappe, & W. Lempert (Eds.), Arbeitsbiographie und Persönlichkeitsentwicklung (pp. 15–40). Retrieved from
  28. Hurrelmann, K., & Bauer, U. (2017). Socialisation during the life course. New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  29. Johnson, M. K., & Hitlin, S. (2017). Family (dis) advantage and life course expectations. Social Forces, 95(3), 997–1022.Google Scholar
  30. Johnson, M. K., & Mortimer, J. T. (2015). Reinforcement or compensation? The effects of parents’ work and financial conditions on adolescents’ work values during the great recession. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 87, 89–100. Scholar
  31. Kelloway, E. K., & Harvey, S. (1999). Learning to work: The development of work beliefs. In J. Barling & E. K. Kelloway (Eds.), Young workers: Varieties of experience. (pp. 37–57). Washington: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from
  32. Knabe, A., & Rätzel, S. (2011). Scarring or scaring? The psychological impact of past unemployment and future unemployment risk: Scarring or scaring? Economica, 78(310), 283–293. Scholar
  33. Kreyenfeld, M. (2010). Uncertainties in female employment careers and the postponement of parenthood in Germany. European Sociological Review, 26(3), 351–366. Scholar
  34. Lam, J., & Ambrey, C. L. (2017). The scarring effects of father’s unemployment? Job-security satisfaction and mental health at midlife. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. Scholar
  35. Lareau, A. (2002). Invisible inequality: Social class and childrearing in black families and white families. American Sociological Review, 67(5), 747–776. Scholar
  36. Levine, K. J., & Hoffner, C. A. (2006). Adolescents’ conceptions of work: What is learned from different sources during anticipatory socialization? Journal of Adolescent Research, 21(6), 647–669. Scholar
  37. Lim, V. K. G., & Loo, G. L. (2003). Effects of parental job insecurity and parenting behaviors on youth’s self-efficacy and work attitudes. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63(1), 86–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lübke, C., & Erlinghagen, M. (2014). Self-perceived job insecurity across Europe over time: Does changing context matter? Journal of European Social Policy, 24(4), 319–336. Scholar
  39. Mauno, S., Cheng, T., & Lim, V. (2017). The far-reaching consequences of job insecurity: A review on family-related outcomes. Marriage & Family Review, 1–27. Scholar
  40. Näswall, K., & De Witte, H. (2003). Who feels insecure in Europe? Predicting job insecurity from background variables. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 24(2), 189–215. Scholar
  41. Nguyen, C. (2017). Labour market insecurity and generalized trust in welfare state context. European Sociological Review, 33(2), 225–239. Scholar
  42. Porfeli, E. J., Wang, C., & Hartung, P. J. (2008). Family transmission of work affectivity and experiences to children. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73(2), 278–286. Scholar
  43. Schmid, K. L., Phelps, E., & Lerner, R. M. (2011). Constructing positive futures: Modeling the relationship between adolescents’ hopeful future expectations and intentional self regulation in predicting positive youth development. Journal of Adolescence, 34(6), 1127–1135. Scholar
  44. Stephens, M. J. (2004). Job loss expectations, realizations, and household consumption behavior. Review of Economics and Statistics, 86(1), 253–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Studer, R., & Winkelmann, R. (2011). Specification and estimation of rating scale models – With an application to the determinants of life satisfaction (Working paper no. 3). Department of Economics. University of Zurich. Retrieved from
  46. Sverke, M., Hellgren, J., & Näswall, K. (2002). No security: A meta-analysis and review of job insecurity and its consequences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7(3), 242–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wagner, G., Frick, J., & Schupp, J. (2007). The German socio-economic panel study (SOEP): Evolution, scope and enhancements. Schmollers Jahrbuch, 127(1), 139–169.Google Scholar
  48. Zhao, X., Lim, V. K., & Teo, T. S. (2012). The long arm of job insecurity: Its impact on career-specific parenting behaviors and youths’ career self-efficacy. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80(3), 619–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Duisburg-EssenDuisburgGermany

Personalised recommendations