Background
Using a unique, longitudinal survey that follows school-to-work transitions of pupils who participated in PISA 2000, this paper investigates adverse consequences, so-called scarring effects, of early unemployment among young adults who acquired vocational credentials in Switzerland.
 
Methods
As social, individual and contextual factors influence both early unemployment and later employment outcomes, taking into account endogeneity is of utmost importance when investigating scarring effects. In this regard we make use of nearest-neighbour propensity score matching and set up statistical control groups.
 
Results
Our results suggest that young adults who hold vocational credentials are more likely to be neither in employment nor in education, and to earn less and be more dissatisfied with their career progress later in work life than they would be, had they not experienced early unemployment.
 
Conclusions
We conclude that unemployment scarring also affects young adults with vocational credentials in a liberal labour market setting that otherwise allows for smooth school-to-work transitions. This finding runs counter to expectations that standardised vocational degrees, a liberal and flexible labour market structure, and predominantly short unemployment spells protect young skilled workers from scarring in case they happen to experience early career instability.

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