TitleStable goals despite economic strain: Young adults’ goal appraisals across the Great Recession
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsRecksiedler, C, Settersten, RA, Geldhof, GJ, Hooker, K
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Date Published09/2018


Drawing on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), this study examines change and stability in personal goal appraisals among German young adults aged 18–29 from 2008, the depth of the Great Recession, to 2012, into the recovery period (N = 3,292). Young adults in Germany, particularly young male workers, were greatly affected by the recession. We examine adaptation in personal appraisals of family, work, leisure, and self-fulfillment goals. Latent transition analysis revealed two profiles of goal adaptation, which differed mainly on the significance of family formation goals (low vs. high). Transitions between the latent profiles over time were less common. Females, older participants, partnered, and employed respondents were more likely to be classified into the high family formation profile. The high family formation profile was also associated with higher levels of life satisfaction and satisfaction with family life, yet simultaneously with lower levels of satisfaction with work and more concerns about the general economy at the onset of the recession. Furthermore, results do not reveal that family formation goals were relinquished over the recession years in favor of self-fulfillment or work-related goals. The high degree of stability in goal appraisals suggests that holding on to family formation goals was important for the well-being of young adults, and that maintaining high aspirations for multiple goals may have protected young people from the effects of economic strain. These findings are discussed in light of the unique aspects of German context.

Stable goals despite economic strain

Short TitleInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
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