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CUPESSE Report Summary

Project ID: 613257
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: Germany

Periodic Report Summary 2 - CUPESSE (Cultural Pathways to Economic Self-Sufficiency and Entrepreneurship: Family Values and Youth Unemployment in Europe)

Project Context and Objectives:
The CUPESSE project carries out a comparative analysis of both the demand and supply side of youth unemployment in eight EU Member States (Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) and two Associated Countries (Switzerland and Turkey). These countries were chosen due to the varying extent to which young people in these countries are affected by unemployment and underemployment. By investigating the cross-country and within-country variation we aim at a comprehensive understanding of the causes and effects of the high levels of unemployment among young people in Europe, which should subsequently allow us to better assess the effects and effectiveness of labour market policies designed to mitigate this phenomenon.
CUPESSE comprises numerous research activities that complement one other to deliver a comprehensive assessment of the problem of unemployment among young Europeans as well as of existing policy measures. The broad empirical scope of the project allows for identifying various strategies to overcome high levels of youth unemployment in Europe. We consider a refined understanding of the supply side of youth unemployment to be decisive for developing promising policy recommendations. As a result, the project places particular emphasis on the supply side and focuses on factors inducing young people to become economically self-sufficient and engage in entrepreneurial activity. In accordance with the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, we define economic self-sufficiency in terms of the extent of participation in economic and social life. Economic self-sufficiency describes a situation in which a person is economically independent without relying on financial support from family or the welfare system. The most effective means to ensure economic self-sufficiency is participation in the labour market by means of employment or self-employment. With the second concept, entrepreneurship, we are interested in why and how individuals set up new businesses. We look specifically at the entrepreneurial mindset—that is, the extent to which young people behave in an entrepreneurial manner.
The concepts of economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship help to gain a more refined understanding of the supply side of youth unemployment and processes of the transition to adulthood. While we know that one’s hard or cognitive skills are important for young people’s employability, CUPESSE goes beyond the state of research by analysing how norms, values and social axioms and their formation and transmission within the cultural context of family organization affect both the hard or cognitive skills and the soft or non-cognitive skills of young people, and how these skills affect their employability and their employment situation. In other words, we are interested in uncovering the cultural pathways to economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship young adults embark on. It is on the basis of this refined understanding of the cultural dimension of the employability of young people that we assess previous policy measures aimed at mitigating youth unemployment in Europe and separate out the factors that make a difference with the ultimate goal of proposing new or refined measures. In order to further investigate the supply side of youth unemployment and to provide a sound assessment of the cultural pathways to economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship, CUPESSE also takes into consideration the demand side of youth unemployment as well as the mismatch between demand and supply.

Project Results:
Considerable progress has been made towards reaching the objectives and research goals. The main results achieved are outlined below.
WP1: Theory and Research Design
We have provided an overview of the extant literature on the various topics on youth economic self-sufficiency and identified gaps, in particular with the ways in which the intergenerational transmission of norms, attitudes, and values impact young adults’ economic activities. Furthermore, the main concepts of interest have been defined. The theoretical overview and model outlining the cultural pathway to economic self-sufficiency originating in the family and that involves the intergenerational transmission of individual characteristics that shape one’s life course has been completed. We have identified existing sources of data to be used to complete and complement the analyses. The partners have conceptualized the research designs for the projects’ analyses.
WP2: Development of the Survey Study
The partners have formulated a survey strategy to maximize response rates, defined the sampling strategy, and outlined the survey mode. The survey questionnaires – both for the young adults and for the parents – have been completed. The survey has been pre-tested with young people at the consortium partner institutions and discussions have been held with polling firms to discuss critical issues. Following the action plan for “youth proofing”, designed with the goal of improving the questionnaire and rendering it appropriate for the target, the survey questionnaire has finally been adapted according to the feedback from test participants. In-depth studies, which will complement the findings of the large-N survey, have been conceptualized and implemented in all consortium partner institutions.

WP3: Survey Study: Implementation and Analysis
The large-scale surveys have been completed in all countries. The data has then been transferred to the partners at the CEU, where it was processed, cleaned and delivered back to all consortium partners in a uniform SPSS and Stata format. The individual teams have begun initial descriptive and causal analyses of the data. The in-depth interview studies with three generations are furthermore underway. The 5th progress meeting in Athens was used to develop a common coding scheme for the analysis of the interview material based on extensive discussions on interview experiences in the participating countries. The presentation of initial findings is planned for September 2016.
WP4: Causes and Effects of Young Adults’ Unemployment
We composed a literature review on the consequences of youth unemployment and made a systematic review of the research on employer studies. Based on this, we drafted a research design for in-depth employer surveys. Five partners volunteered to conduct employer surveys, from which 3 have already been completed. Findings from the case studies on Germany and Austria have already been published as CUPESSE working papers (No. 4 and No.5). The remaining country analyses are currently being finalized and will also be integrated in the CUPESSE working paper series.
WP5: Assessment of the Diffusion and Effects of Labour Market Policies
A working paper documenting the diffusion and the effects of flexicurity labour market policies in Europe has been completed. The paper provides the basis for further analyses by showing that flexicurity policies have been adapted in various countries beyond the Danish and Dutch cases. Various analyses and documents in progress have assessed the impact of policies which both explicitly and implicitly affect self-employment. These initial findings will be expanded as we continue to evaluate and investigate the effectiveness of public policies on youth entrepreneurship.
WP6: Synthesis of Finding and Presentation of Policy Recommendations
Not yet started
WP7: Dissemination, Exploitation, and Policy Engagement
Communication and dissemination systems have been established to present project achievements and findings to the scientific community and the general public. Three policy briefs and five e-newsletters have been released. A CUPESSE Working Paper Series was established, with five working papers having been published.
WP8: Coordination and Project Management
Within the reporting period, all scheduled deliverables were submitted and all milestones have been met. The Project Management Team has been involved in contractual, administrative, and financial management activities. Five consortium meetings were used to assess project progress, discuss current key issues, and agree on next steps.

Potential Impact:
The CUPESSE project, in analysing the supply and demand side factors which impact young people’s economic self-sufficiency, will produce studies which will be of relevance for members of academia, stakeholders, as well as decision-makers. Below, the three main products of this research endeavour as well as their potential impacts are discussed.

First, the cornerstone of the CUPESSE project involves a large-scale survey of both young people and their parents to gather information on the ways in which attitudes, values, and norms regarding work and economic activity are passed through the generations and how they impact young adults’ successes in attaining economic self-sufficiency. By zooming in on the so-called cultural pathway, the project will complement studies examining the role of hard skills for labour market outcomes and provide a deepened understanding of the ways in which the family environment shapes young people’s future paths. To complement the survey data, in-depth three-generational family interviews will provide further insights into the precise mechanisms behind the relationship involving the intergenerational transmission of attitudes and values and later work outcomes. The unique data to be generated will be of great interest to scholars in the social sciences, as rarely are multi-generational data of this scope available across countries and regions. In terms of stakeholder communities, the insights generated from the analyses of the intergenerational data may prove valuable for improving programmes and projects involving, for example, at risk youth by gaining a better understanding of the role the family context plays in shaping later career and work outcomes. Moreover, policy-makers will be keen to find out more about the factors which influence the entrepreneurial mindset, as entrepreneurship has been identified as one means of overcoming the persistent problems of unemployment and under-employment by many different governments, including the European Commission.

Second, CUPESSE will contribute to the knowledge on the potential mismatches between young adults’ and employers’ expectations and perceptions. By interviewing employers with a view to their hiring procedures and goals in hiring young people and comparing these responses with young people’s perceptions, CUPESSE will generate that will also have potential value to businesses as well as to communities involved with education and vocational training.

Third, the CUPESSE project is also dedicated to the analysis of public policies which impact young people and their labour market participation. Labour market policies (including policies aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and business start-ups as well as activation measures), social policies, as well as educational policies are among the major policy fields to be investigated. Using the information from the large-scale survey, we will be able to analyse how public policies shape young people’s economic self-sufficiency as well as whether the policies impact different groups of young people in different ways. We also aim to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of current policies and use these investigations as a basis upon which to formulate policy recommendations. It is within this research area that we foresee that greatest impact for political decision-makers. In addition to analysing the efficacy of public policies, we furthermore are interested in the ways in which policies, in particular, flexicurity policies, travel – that is, how are policies formulated and implemented in one country or region picked up and adapted by other governments? This information will be valuable not only for policy-makers, but for scholars interested in policy diffusion as well.

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