Skip to content
Main menu hidden.

When and where is it possible for young workers to escape from low-wage jobs?

Research project This study investigates the role of the organizational and regional context for upward wage mobility.

Previous research shows that for young people, starting a working life with a low-wage job may be a ‘trap’ in a labour market career. In this project we examine what conditions facilitate climbing up the earnings ladder and making a transition from low-wage to better paid job positions. Specifically, we analyse whether having skilled peers at a workplace may help getting a better-paid jobs for workers who started their labour market careers with low-wage jobs. We also study whether upward wage mobility is more likely if there are many new vacancies emerging on the local labour market.

Head of project

Anna Baranowska-Rataj
Professor, other position

Project overview

Project period:

2018-01-01 2020-12-31


Vetenskapsrådet, 2018-2020: 4 950 000 SEK

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences

Research area


Project description

The aim of this project is to analyse to what extent the firm-specific and regional context influence the likelihood of escaping low-wage employment and finding better-paid jobs. Specifically, we focus on the role of the skill content of firms' workforce, its sociodemographic composition as well as youth embeddedness in the firms' social networks. We also examine the moderating role of the economic conditions on the regional labour markets.
This project uses Swedish register data, which: (1) provide reliable longitudinal information on individual wages, (2) match employee-employer records and hence provide information on the characteristics of the firms employing young workers and (3) combine individual data on wage dynamics with the socio-economic context of the region. The research group has well-documented expertise in research on youth labour market integration, income inequalities, regional dynamics and knowledge on cutting-edge statistical methods.


Journal of Sociology, Sage Publications 2019, Vol. 55, (4) : 689-707
Högberg, Björn; Strandh, Mattias; Baranowska-Rataj, Anna
Latest update: 2019-10-15