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College Educated Yet Disconnected: Exploring Disconnection From Education and Employment in OECD Countries, With a Comparative Focus on the U.S. NEET OECD PIAAC ELS NCES

Kevelson, Marisol J. C.; Marconi, Gabriele; Millett, Catherine M.; Zhelyazkova, Nevena
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report, ETS Policy Evaluation and Research Center Report
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Subject/Key Words:
Disconnected Youth, Job Training, Economic Consequences, Geographic Regions, Childhood, Educational Attainment, High School, Two-Year Colleges, Four-Year Colleges, Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Higher Education, Parent Background


In this study, we investigated factors predictive of disconnection, or not being in education, employment, or training (NEET), among young adults with at least a 2-year college degree. We also explored the extent to which disconnection influences civic participation and well-being among NEETs with and without college degrees. The authors used 2012 and 2015 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data from the Survey of Adult Skills in the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) for 29 countries, including the United States, along with US 2012 data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Results highlight that college-educated individuals whose parents have low levels of educational attainment actually have a higher likelihood of becoming NEET relative to college-educated individuals whose parents are more highly educated. Study findings also emphasize the influence of economic and geographic differences (country-level for OECD and county-level for United States) on NEET rates, in addition to the extent to which mothers have a higher likelihood and fathers have a lower likelihood of being NEET relative to their childless peers and the influence of country-level family leave policies on the odds of being NEET across the OECD. College field of study also emerges as an important influence on disconnection across the 29 OECD countries in the study, but not in the United States separately. Finally, comparing results for college-educated NEETs and NEETs without degrees, we found that higher education appears to reduce the likelihood of community disengagement and reports of poor health among NEETs across the OECD countries. However, this is not the case within the United States where NEETs are less likely to be engaged in their communities and more likely to describe themselves as in poor health regardless of their educational attainment.

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