Accueil » 38-4 ( 1983) » Chômage chez les jeunes : Conséquences psychologiques et sociales

Chômage chez les jeunes : Conséquences psychologiques et sociales

Marie Demers


À partir d'une revue de la littérature sur le chômage des jeunes que l'auteur a dépouillée en provenance des États-Unis, de la France, de la Grande-Bretagne et de l'Australie, celle-ci dégage les changements qui se sont opérés ainsi que les problèmes sociaux qu'entraîne ce phénomène.


Unemployment and the Young: Psychological and Social Consequences

This review of literature is based on the psychological and social consequences of unemployment among people under 25, and covers Australia, France, the U.K. and the U.S.A. The first part deals with changes brought on by unemployment among young people and the second, with social problems created by it.

There is some similarity in the stages through which the young unemployed pass after losing jobs or after failing to find them. Repeated failure creates psychological changes among the young in which fear of rejection or failure and the desire to avoid them become predominant motivations. As a result, they cease to look for work and create defensive mecanisms such as the acceptance of marginal status and resignation concerning their situation. One also observes an important decrease in self-esteem. There is, however, a great diversity of reaction depending on the value placed on work.

The family becomes a support structure for the young unemployed. Inactivity and lack of financial resources make them dependent on their families, causing problems of reluctant dependence and remorse, and resulting often in deterioration of family relationships.

The study of leisure time reveals that the young unemployed have less diversions than others, because of their weak financial position. Their relations with friends deteriorate, and they have a tendency to isolate themselves. Unemployment causes disorganization of time and, in turn, boredom.

Political and social attitudes are also affected. Some believe the frustration felt by the young unemployed could lead them to adopt radical views, with possible effects for collective action against constituted authority. Others feel, because of the individual nature of unemployment, that the unemployed sink into inactivity and marginalization.

Unemployment among the young can also result in a reduction of professional aspirations. As regards the future, unemployment increases the risk of later periods of unemployment and reduced future income.

Beyond individual experience, this situation appears to favour the development of certain social pathologies. Unemployment might create a state of anxiety and depression increasing the risk of psychiatric disorders and the risk of suicide.

An attempt has been made to establish a relationship between the consumption of drugs and alcohol during the past few years and the rise of unemployment among the young, but no serious study has as yet come to light.

The link between unemployment and crime among the young is the question which has been best documented. No consensus has nevertheless been reached, doubtless because of the diversity of indices for crime and unemployment used. In spite of that, most recent studies indicate a positive correlation between bad economic times and increasing attacks against property among youth. The simple cause and effect relationship between unemployment and crime, however, has been rejected in favour of a multiple-cause approach to the latter.