Foto: Wutsje ©RUG

PhD defence Lin Rouvroye

15 Apr 2024 12:45 Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Monday 15 April Lin Rouvroye successfully defended her doctoral thesis entitled ‘Secure or at risk? Employers and young adults on their experiences and preferences regarding flexible employment contracts‘.

Over the past decades, many Western countries have witnessed a substantial increase in flexible employment relationships. Flexible employment contracts are especially prevalent among people under the age of 35. This dissertation explores how young adults and employers relate flexible employment to the transition to adulthood and how both parties perceive disadvantageous consequences of flexible employment. Analyses are based on new data from qualitative interviews, surveys and a vignette study, all collected in the Netherlands.

Findings show that employers and young adults each have their own perspective on flexible employment and that these perspectives do not match. Employers displayed a clear liking for the use of flexible employment contracts because they believe it benefits business operations. In practice, however, strategic motives for the use of flexible contracts may counteract. Employers also reported distinct downsides to flexible employment in terms of unclear human resource management and lower employee well-being.

Young people’s perspective on flexible employment turned out to be informed by the experience of key life events that constitute ‘adulthood’. Young adults showed a clear distaste for flexible employment contracts, especially types that offer low income- and job security. Young people in flexible employment also worried more about how their future life might or might take shape than those in permanent employment.

The dissertation concludes that a substantial share of young adults face the challenge of building a life under insecure conditions and that employers are unlikely to act on this societal problem.

Short, 4-minute, film telling the story of Lin Rouvroye’s PhD research (with English subtitles):

This research was conducted at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW) as part of the National Science Agenda (NWA) project ‘The life course of the young in the 21st century: risks for increasing inequality’ and supported by a grant from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

For more information on the PhD defence see the University of Groningen website.

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