Vulnerable Youth and the the Transition to Adulthood

Michael Pergamit, Urban Institute
Tracy Vericker, Urban Institute
Daniel Kuehn, Urban Institute
Jennifer Macomber, Urban Institute

The definition of “vulnerable youth” varies. We divide factors into two groups, exogenous factors such as growing up in a low-income family, in a single-parent family, and in bad neighborhoods and endogenous choices such as substance abuse, early sexual behavior, delinquent behaviors and dropping out of school. We use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 to examine trajectories of connectedness to school or work between ages 18 and 24 and identify direct and indirect effects of being in vulnerable populations, accounting for the effect of risk taking and dropping out of school. We find a direct effect of growing up in a low-income family on the likelihood of never being connected to school or work, but no indirect effect operating through risky behaviors. Risky behaviors and not completing high school predict being disconnected; however, youth from low-income families are not more likely to engage in risky behaviors nor less likely to complete high school.

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Presented in Session 73: Transition to Adulthood