Faculty Study Recession’s Impact on 'Generation R'

Thursday, November 18, 2010

PHILADELPHIA (November 18, 2010)--As the old saying goes, “growing up isn’t easy.” And for 20-somethings who’ve recently finished college or set out in the working world, it has been an especially difficult time.

With the country climbing out of recession, two Saint Joseph’s University professors are beginning a study to examine what it has left behind in its aftermath, focusing specifically on its effect on young people’s transitions into adulthood.

In the study, Maria Kefalas, Ph.D., professor of sociology, and Kim Logio, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology, will look into the recession’s impact on everything from young people’s salaries and employment to its effect on the hopes and dreams of this particularly vulnerable group, which they refer to as “Generation R,” a term coined by New York Times reporter Steve Greenhouse.

“This is incredibly interesting work because these are young people like those that I have taught here at SJU,” Logio said. “While I may not know any of them directly, they represent the age-group of students who just graduated, the young men and women I had in class that had such high hopes for their future.”

The study will consist of 150 in-depth interviews of 2006 graduates from area high schools including Haverford, Upper Darby, Lower Merion and Harriton High Schools. To supplement the interviews, data will also be collected using an online survey that can be found at the project’s website, www.generation-r.org. For each completed survey, $5 will be donated to a charity of the survey taker’s choice.

“If we can better understand how well they are navigating through these difficult times, we can support them and also learn how to better insulate our young people/young families from a future economic crisis,” Logio said.

Early interviews have revealed much heartache, according to Kefalas, who notes that many students leave college with debt but without jobs.

“Many of the students grew up being told that they could do and achieve anything, but now they’re finding that that isn’t the case.  They feel that the rules have been changed in the middle of the game,” Kefalas said. “For many of them, discussing the recession’s impact and the ways in which they are dealing with it has been almost a cathartic experience.”

The project is funded by a University Provost Grant of $8,000, and will also draw on its association with the MacArthur Foundation's Network on Transitions to Adulthood, which “examines the changing nature of early adulthood, and the policies, programs, and institutions that support young people as they move into adulthood.” The final stage of the project will be to produce a documentary and author a book detailing their findings and telling their subjects’ stories.

Young people who graduated in 2006 from Harriton, Lower Merion, Haverford and Upper Darby high schools in the class of 2006, can contact the Generation R Project through  www.generation-r.org to participate in the study.


Media Contact

 Kelly Welsh '05 (M.A.), Director of Communications for College of Arts & Sciences, University Communications, 610-660-1385, kwelsh@sju.edu


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