The Dutch knowledge platform Labour and Income (Kennisplatform Werk en Inkomen, KWI) states that more insight in the factors determining the labour market vulnerability of people is of crucial importance for policy making. KWI finds that - although a lot of research has already been done in this field - some gaps still exist in the existing knowledge on labour market vulnerability. Firstly, existing research usually focuses on vulnerability in a certain moment: these studies do not consider whether people stay vulnerable over a longer period of time or even their entire lifetime. Secondly, the existing research does not provide sufficient insight in the extent to which an unfavourable labour market position is determined by personal factors, context factors and chance. Therefore, KWI has commissioned an exploratory study to the possibilities and added value of a life course perspective on vulnerability.
Many studies are limited to a certain part of the life course or estimate an effect of an event in the beginning stages of life on the labour market situation later in life, based on only two observations in time. Studies that do cover (a large part of) the entire life course, only include a limited number of (mainly 'hard') characteristics in the analysis. Sufficient insight into the extent to which both 'hard' and 'soft' characteristics, time and path dependence, and chance influence the working life is still missing.
A life course analysis could provide more insight into the (combinations of) characteristics which lead to vulnerability across the life course. This may give indications of the types of policy necessary to diminish labour market vulnerability. Furthermore, the analysis would provide a solid basis for follow-up studies.