YASS: Young Adult Survey Switzerland (Head of the National Research Consortium)

Short description

Young adults are seen as agents of social change. They are pioneers in the development of a lifestyle that responds to the latest cultural, economic and social changes in society. With “Young Adult Survey Switzerland YASS” of the Federal Youth Surveys ch-x, an instrument was developed to record changes and stability of attitudes and values of this generation on the threshold from adolescence to adulthood by repeated surveys with the same questionnaire.

The focus is on the following topics:

  • “education, work and career”,
  • “health and sports”,
  • “politics and civil responsibility”,
  • “values and value orientations” and
  • “capabilities and life perspectives”.

Aim

The aim of the “Young Adult Survey Switzerland” of the Federal Youth Surveys ch-x is to obtain an empirically and interdisciplinarily supported insight into the educational biographies, living conditions, and social and political orientations of young adults in Switzerland, to record possible changes, and thus to show trends and tendencies among 19-year-old Swiss.

Publications

YASS will have its own reporting platform. By means of a special YASS publication series, the current findings of the surveys will be published in several languages at cyclical intervals. The first report volume presents the goals and methods of the new project and also some exemplary results of the first survey. Volume 2, published in 2019, will allow concrete comparisons of two survey points and their explanations. Following tradition, the third volume, published in 2022, presents selected results from the comparison of three surveys on the above-mentioned topics and describes – in-depth on current developments in the Corona pandemic – changes in the lives of young adults. Volumes 1, 2, and 3 can be accessed here and on the ch-x website (www.chx.ch).

Press & Media

Background

Until the middle of the 20th century, the Pedagogical Recruit Examinations (PRP) were the instrument for obtaining information about one’s youth by means of a few school performance measures and for obtaining a picture of the elementary school education level in the cantons. As social science research in Switzerland gained breadth beginning in the 1960s, ideas emerged about how the PRP could be used anew as a tool for broad-based youth research. Finally, at the beginning of the new millennium, with the transition to surveys of all male conscripts in army recruitment centers and the introduction of an additional sample of young women representative of Switzerland, the PRPs became the Young Adult Survey Switzerland.

Since 2010, young adults aged 19 have been surveyed on the same topics. The surveys are always conducted over two calendar years. This rhythm enables youth monitoring, which was previously lacking in Switzerland in this form.

International comparison

YASS1 is unique in its design. The comparison with other countries shows that there are hardly any comparable multithemed youth surveys that are broadly based and designed for regular repetition. Well-known in Switzerland are also the “German Shell Youth Studies”, which have been conducted regularly since 1953 and publish a status report every 4-6 years. Moreover, most youth studies refer to the 10- to 18-year-old generation, whereas YASS refers to the threshold-age generation of 19- and 20-year-olds (Huber/Hurrelmann, YASS volume 1, 2016, p. 25ff).

Survey rhythm

The cyclically repeated representative surveys of the Federal Youth Surveys ch-x prove to be an ideal instrument for such “measurements” on the pulse of young adults of both genders. The surveys are always conducted over two calendar years. The first YASS survey took place in 2010/2011. A first repeat occurred in 2014/2015. The third survey cycle occurred in 2018/2019. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be a delay, so the next data will be collected in 2024/2025.

Respondent populations

Surveys are conducted at the time of enlistment at each of the six Swiss recruitment centers, thus capturing the bulk of Swiss men of draft age. By means of a nationally representative supplementary sample, approximately 3,000 randomly selected women aged 19 are also surveyed at their place of residence or, since 2018, via the Internet, which corresponds to about 5 percent of the 19-year-old female population in Switzerland. The response rates of around 60-90 percent in each of the previous surveys can be attributed to the quality of the questionnaire and personal contact by ch-x employees (around 100).

Survey instruments

Since the survey instruments are used repeatedly in the four-year cycle, special consideration was given to ensuring that the questions selected are both durable over the longer term and sensitive to possible changes. The selection of questions was guided by existing international studies in order to achieve possible comparability of results. However, new questions were also constructed based on the theoretical model. In constructing the questions, the current state of research in the survey literature was taken into account. In addition, the questionnaire was repeatedly modified based on the results of various pretests.

Further information on the various pretests and the translation process can be found in the final report on instrument development (Huber et al., 2011; cf. www.chx.ch/YASS).

Expected added value

By conducting largely identical surveys every 4 years, detailed and comparable data on the situation and development of young adults will be collected, which has been lacking in this form in Switzerland until now. This rhythm enables a permanent monitoring, which offers several advantages: With the instrument for the permanent observation of living conditions as well as social and political orientations of young adults, changes can be described retrospectively on the one hand and emerging trends can be pointed out on the other hand. It is obvious that the results of this long-term survey will only gain in significance cumulatively, i.e. with each subsequent survey. The identification of trends and tendencies is therefore the primary goal of the project. A major advantage lies in the large sample of young Swiss adults, which covers almost all educational and income levels. Analyses and statements are possible down to the level of individual cantons and political districts. In addition, the large sample size makes it possible to specifically analyze unusual groups (so-called problem groups with regard to drugs, propensity to violence, lack of education, etc.) and the typical transition problems from adolescent to adult (transition or rite de passage research). In this way, the results contribute to policy-making and to the improvement of services for young adults.

YASS Research Team

After a public call for tenders, a team of scientists from the University of Teacher Education Zug (leadership) and the Universities of Bern, Zurich and Geneva was recruited for the long-term project.

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