Economic independence among former students with special educational needs; cha...

Economic independence among former students with special educational needs; changes and contuinuities from their late twenties to their mid-thirties


Finn Ove Båtevik, Jon Olav Myklebust


European Journal of Special Needs Education





Abundant research exists on the transition from school to work of youth with disabilities. However, few studies investigate their subsequent long-term participation in working life. This study, drawing on a life course approach, aimed to examine how former students with special educational needs succeeded in finding full-time employment with sufficient pay to make them economically independent. The extent of economic independence was investigated in their late twenties and their mid-thirties. The sample (N = 216) originates from a Norwegian longitudinal research project that commenced in the mid -1990s when the study participants just had started upper secondary school. Their special needs provision and their physical, psychological and/or social difficulties were recorded at the same time. After their teens they were interviewed every fifth year.

At both age phases close to 50% of the study participants were economically independent, men to a much greater degree than women. By logistic regression analyses it was revealed that the independent variables influenced economic independence differently among men and women, for example that educational attainment was important for women, but not for men. However, possession of a driving licence was crucial for men, but was relatively unimportant for women, at least in the first age phase. There was also a differential impact of parenthood. Having children increased the likelihood of being economically independent for men, whereas the impact was opposite for women, especially when they were approaching their mid-thirties. Processes of cumulative advantages and disadvantages were also observed, indicating that previous negative life course experiences dramatically reduce the chances of obtaining economic independence.