A new study utilizing the FinEdu -data, involving Professor Katariina Salmela-Aro, has been published in Developmental Psychology on the psychological and attainment outcomes of different post-school pathways. Existing gap-year research indicates a number of benefits of a gap-year at the end of school and before university enrollment. Life span theory of control, however, suggests that direct goal investment, rather than delay, at developmental transitions is associated with more adaptive outcomes.
For this paper, comparing these perspectives, the authors undertook 2 studies: one in Finland (N = 384, waves = 3) and one in Australia (N = 2,259, waves = 5) both with an initial time wave in the last year of high school. The authors explored the effects of a gap-year on both psychological and attainment outcomes using an extensive propensity score matching technique.
The Finnish study found no difference in growth in goal commitment, effort, expectations of attainment and strain, or in actual university enrollment in those planning to enter university directly versus those who plan to take a gap-year. The Australian study found no difference in growth in outlooks for the future and career prospects, and life satisfaction between gap-year youth and direct university entrants. However, the study did find that gap-year students were more likely to drop out of a university degree.
Check out the original: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/dev/51/3/323/
Reference: Parker, P. D., Thoemmes, F., Duineveld, J. J., & Salmela-Aro, K. (2015). I wish I had (not) taken a gap-year? The psychological and attainment outcomes of different post-school pathways. Developmental Psychology, 51(3), 323-333. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038667