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Decomposing Youth Poverty in 22 Countries

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B. Young Adults and Poverty from an International

Perspective

A high proportion of young adults and households headed by

young adults live in poverty in Western countries (Aassve et al.,

2013; Ayllón, 2015; Iacovou, 2009). Aassve et al. (2013) reported

that in 2005 the poverty rate for young adults aged 18-24 ranged

from 10% in Slovenia to 34% in Denmark. In Scandinavia, 17% to

34% of young adults lives below the poverty line. At the peak of

the global financial crisis (GFC), the poverty rate for 18- to

24-year-olds skyrocketed. The younger they were when they left

the parental home, the more financially disadvantaged they were.

Recent studies have used longitudinal data to address the

persistence and dynamics of youth poverty. Although Scandinavian

young adults are at high risk of poverty, they leave poverty more

quickly than their counterparts in Southern Europe (Ayllón, 2015;

Mendola et al., 2009).

There are cross-country differences in the risk of poverty

between young adults and other age groups. Although Scandinavian

countries have little overall and child poverty, the risk of poverty

for young adults is high (Luxembourg Income Study [LIS], 2016).

In contrast, young people in East Asia are more financially secure

than older adults. For example, in 2006, South Korean households

headed by young adults had a poverty rate of 8% versus 40% for

households headed by Korean older adults (LIS, 2016; Tai, 2012).

Researchers have attributed this variation in youth poverty

across countries to the interplay of the family, the market, and

social welfare (Esping-Andersen, 1990, 1999). The following

sections review research on the connection of youth poverty to

these factors.

C. Social Welfare Regimes

Cross-national disparities in youth economic well-being stem

from differences in national welfare systems that define the