A scarred generation? French evidence on young people entering into a tough labour market
The late 2000s recession has hit youth very hard, lowering the employment and wage prospects of the entrants into the labour market. In this paper, we address the question of the persistence of these adverse shocks faced by young people who enter into the labour market during an economic downturn, focusing on the French case. Using the French Labour Force Surveys for the cohorts entering the labour market between 1982 and 2009 (which includes more than two entire business cycles), we find no long term effect on wage or employment of having entered the labour market during an economic crisis. "Unlucky" young people completing their studies during a recession have lower employment rates, are more often part-time and temporary workers, but catch-up with "lucky" one within 3 years. This fast catch-up contrasts with results for other countries. Potential explanations for those differences are twofold: first, in France a large share of young entrants are paid at the minimum wage and, second, young people unemployment is high in France, so that unemployment at entry on the labour market may be less often used as a screening device by employers.