Ambition gone awry: The long-term socioeconomic consequences of misaligned and uncertain ambitions in adolescence

Ricardo Sabates, Angel L. Harris, Jeremy Staff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate whether misaligned or uncertain ambitions in adolescence influence the process of socioeconomic attainment. Methods: Using 34 years of longitudinal data from the British Cohort Study (BCS70), we considered whether youth with (1) misaligned ambitions (i.e., those who either over- or underestimate the level of education required for their desired occupation), (2) both low occupational aspirations and educational expectations (low-aligned ambitions), and (3) uncertainty with regard to their future occupations (uncertain ambitions) at age 16 experienced more unemployment spells, lower educational attainment, and lower hourly wages in adulthood compared to youth with high occupational aspirations and educational expectations (high-aligned ambitions). Results: Youth who hold misaligned or uncertain aspirations show long-term deficits in employment stability and educational attainment, which in turn leads to lower wage attainments at age 34. Conclusion: Misaligned and uncertain ambitions in adolescence compromise the construction of life paths and the realization of long-term educational and occupational goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-977
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Volume92
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)

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