Development of Values after Compulsory School: Work comes first, then family

Stalder, Barbara E.; Keller, Anita; Tschopp, Cécile (November 2013). Development of Values after Compulsory School: Work comes first, then family (Unpublished). In: TREE - Youth and Young Adulthood: Transitions in the 2nd and 3rd Decade of Life. Basel. 28.-30.11.2013.

During school-to-work transition, adolescents develop values and prioritize what is im-portant in their life. Values are concepts or beliefs about desirable states or behaviors that guide the selection or evaluation of behavior and events, and are ordered by their relative importance (Schwartz & Bilsky, 1987). Stressing the important role of values, career re-search has intensively studied the effect of values on educational decisions and early career development (e.g. Eccles, 2005; Hirschi, 2010; Rimann, Udris, & Weiss, 2000). Few re-searchers, however, have investigated so far how values develop in the early career phase and how value trajectories are influenced by individual characteristics.
Values can be oriented towards specific life domains, such as work or family. Work values include intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of work (e.g., self-development, cooperation with others, income) (George & Jones, 1997). Family values include the importance of partner-ship, the creation of an own family and having children (Mayer, Kuramschew, & Trommsdroff, 2009). Research indicates that work values change considerably during early career development (Johnson, 2001; Lindsay & Knox, 1984). Individual differences in work values and value trajectories are found e.g., in relation to gender (Duffy & Sedlacek, 2007), parental background (Loughlin & Barling, 2001), personality (Lowry et al., 2012), educa-tion (Battle, 2003), and the anticipated timing of school-to-work transition (Porfeli, 2007).
In contrast to work values, research on family value trajectories is rare and knowledge about the development during the school-to-work transition and early career development is lack-ing. This paper aims at filling this research gap.
Focusing on family values and intrinsic work values and we expect a) family and work val-ues to change between ages 16 and 25, and b) that initial levels of family and work values as well as value change to be predicted by gender, reading literacy, ambition, and expected du-ration of education.
Method. Using data from 2620 young adults (59.5% females), who participated in the Swiss longitudinal study TREE, latent growth modeling was employed to estimate the initial level and growth rate per year for work and family values. Analyses are based on TREE-waves 1 (year 2001, first year after compulsory school) to 8 (year 2010). Variables in the models included family values and intrinsic work values, gender, reading literacy, ambition and ex-pected duration of education. Language region was included as control variable.
Results. Family values did not change significantly over the first four years after leaving compulsory school (mean slope = -.03, p =.36). They increased, however, significantly five years after compulsory school (mean slope = .13, p >.001). Intercept (.23, p < .001), first slope (.02, p < .001), and second slope (.01, p < .001) showed significant variance. Initial levels were higher for men and those with higher ambitions. Increases were found to be steeper for males as well as for participants with lower educational duration expectations and reading skills. Intrinsic work values increased over the first four years (mean slope =.03, p <.05) and showed a tendency to decrease in the years five to ten (mean slope = -.01, p < .10). Intercept (.21, p < .001), first slope (.01, p < .001), and second slope (.01, p < .001) showed signifi-cant variance, meaning that there are individual differences in initial levels and growth rates. Initial levels were higher for females, and those with higher ambitions, expecting longer educational pathways, and having lower reading skills. Growth rates were lower for the first phase and steeper for the second phase for males compared to females.
Discussion. In general, results showed different patterns of work and family value trajecto-ries, and different individual factors related to initial levels and development after compul-sory school. Developments seem to fit to major life and career roles: in the first years after compulsory school young adults may be engaged to become established in one's job; later on, raising a family becomes more important. That we found significant gender differences in work and family trajectories may reflect attempts to overcome traditional roles, as over-all, women increase in work values and men increase in family values, resulting in an over-all trend to converge.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Work and Organisational Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Keller, Anita (A)


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Anita Keller

Date Deposited:

17 Apr 2014 17:02

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:33


Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback