Trends in the youth transitions to the labour market in Serbia

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Jovana Zafirović


In recent decades, the transformation from industrial to post-industrial societies has inevitably influenced the patterns of transition for young individuals entering the labor market. These transition patterns reflect continuity and changes in the social division of labor, thus representing a crucial process in shaping the social stratification of modern societies. The focus of this study is the analysis of changes in the average age of entry into the labor market in Serbia from the second half of the twentieth century to the present. The aim is to shed light on three questions: 1) how the average age of entry into the workforce has changed during this period, 2) what differences in the transition patterns have been observed between men and women, and 3) what differences in transition patterns have been observed between urban and rural populations. The emphasis is on recognizing basic trends in the transition to the labor market for the cohorts born from 1930 to 1995.

Considering the rapid changes that Serbian society has undergone during this period, we will attempt to determine their impact on the basic patterns of integration into the labor market. Ideally, we would like to be able to map all the aspects of the professional transition of specific cohorts through the changing institutional structure. However, since this is not feasible, this paper specifically focuses on the following aspects of the transition process: (a) timing of events, i.e., the average age of entry into the labor market, and (b) variability in age, i.e., the level at which transitions occur at specific ages.

The analysis is based on the data from the European Social Survey in 2018, with its sample of 1265 respondents in Serbia. Survival analysis is applied to illustrate changes over time in the studied life event, along with Kaplan-Meier survival function estimates for comparisons across gender/locality. When considering the aspects of timing of events and variability in age, the results indicate a delay in professional transitions during the study period, but not necessarily their destandardization. Additionally, life trajectories of men and women had become increasingly similar by the collapse of socialism and the rise of social inequalities, when this trend was halted. On the other hand, transition patterns between individuals from rural and urban areas are becoming more similar. Taking into account the intense societal changes during the analyzed period, the transformations observed in professional transitions may be a consequence of these specific social changes.


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Zafirović, J. (2024). Trends in the youth transitions to the labour market in Serbia. Stanovnistvo, 62(1), 43–64.
Author Biography

Jovana Zafirović, Institute of Social Sciences, Belgrade (Serbia)

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