School-to-Work Transitions—Findings from Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches in Youth Transition Research

Nora Gaupp


In this article I illustrate and reflect on the development of a model of transitions to employment on the basis of a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods in the context of a study of school-to-work transitions among lower educated young adults in Germany. Due to its interest in the intersection of structural and institutional determinants on one side and individual action on the other, research on youth transitions has a long tradition of combining quantitative and qualitative approaches. Against this background I reflect on the steps of producing findings from such a mixed methods study. The argument follows a single case through this process: it was first observed in the context of a longitudinal survey and subsequently selected for a qualitative interview. Section 2 introduces the outcome of the quantitative analysis in terms of a logistic regression model based on a six year panel study and discusses the relevance of individual, social, and structural variables for different types of pathways to the labor market. This is followed by the development of the "quantitative profile" of a single case on the basis of longitudinal survey information. The third section of the article presents the qualitative profile established on the case on the basis of a qualitative telephone interview. The comparative analysis of all qualitative interviews suggests the consideration of the four main dimensions of agency, motivation, critical life events, and social interactions in an integrated model of school-to-work transitions. The concluding discussion in Section 4 addresses critical issues, possibilities, and limitations of combining both research approaches as well as options of integrating them in youth transition research.



school-to-work transitions; young adults with basic education; transition research; mixing quantitative and qualitative methods

Copyright (c) 2013 Nora Gaupp

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