A successful transition to adulthood requires agency during an economic recession

The doctoral dissertation by Mette Ranta focused on young Finnish adults’ personal financial situation and individual agency across young adulthood and their concurrent and longitudinal effects on key developmental tasks related to career and social relations as well as life satisfaction development. The separate studies analyzed transitions of 18–25-year-olds in the context of the global economic downturn that has been taking place since 2008. The research used data from the FinEdu longitudinal research project.

The key theoretical perspective was the life course theory (Elder, 1998) and multidisciplinary frameworks addressing the notion of agency.heads3_silhouette_final_white_cmyk

The research had three aims:

  • to examine how financial resources influence youth development and life satisfaction;
  • to give an overview of life situations and multifaceted transitions in the midst of personal and societal change; and
  • to explain the role of agency in managing financial issues and developmental tasks.

The results showed that individual agency, indicated by the use of achievement approach strategies and social approach strategies, was especially important in shaping life course transitions, success and satisfaction regarding developmental tasks at age 25, especially concerning use of social strategies. Participants’ financial situation improved on an objective level from age 20 to 25, but the subjective perception did not; furthermore, financial issues did not have an effect on success and satisfaction regarding developmental tasks. The results also showed that there was no change in life satisfaction during the educational transition from general upper secondary school to further education and/or employment, but the analyses revealed a significant heterogeneity among the young adults’ life satisfaction reflected in five life satisfaction trajectories. A high level of agency at age 19 was related to having a high life satisfaction trajectory, as was higher subjective financial situation at age 22. The results also showed that the highest frequency categories and profiles of personal goals and concerns at ages 20 and 23 were in the career domain, comprised of education, work and finances, with education prioritized at age 20 and work at age 23; romantic relationships were less frequent. The goal profiles were associated with related life status cross-sectionally and longitudinally, and to personal concerns – especially in the career domain.

For more information, please contact Mette Ranta.

M.Soc.Sc. Mette Ranta will defend her doctoral dissertation in Psychology entitled ”Pathways to adulthood: Developmental tasks, financial resources and agency”, on the 16th of June, 2015, at the University of Jyväskylä. Professor Marlis Buchmann (University of Zurich) will serve as the opponent, and Professor Katariina Salmela-Aro as the custos.


Ranta, M. (2015). Pathways to adulthood: Developmental tasks, financial resources and agency. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä. Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research, 527. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-6227-2

More information: https://www.jyu.fi/ajankohtaista/arkisto/2015/04/tiedote-2015-06-09-12-01-06-305774