Are the Early Leavers the Lucky Ones?




Learning & Competencies, Employment, Wages, Unemployment & Rehabilitation, Innovation & Productivity, Labor Market Institutions & Social Partners, Organization & Management


According to previous studies, major workforce downsizings are commonly preceded by increased employee turnover due to ‘early leavers’. There is a common belief that early leavers are winners in terms of re-employment. This seven-year follow-up study based on register data from Finland questions if this is a valid finding in the Nordic context. We set the hypothesis that early leavers are not undisputed winners compared with those who leave during the actual downsizing. Trajectory and sequence analyses were used to test the hypothesis. Six employment trajectories were identified, ranging from permanently strong to permanently weak labor market attachment. Supporting the hypothesis, the early leavers assumed more commonly the weak and less commonly the strong employment trajectory. However, within the weak employment group, the early leavers and ultimately displaced workers were equal in terms of unemployment and retiring, as well as within the strong employment group in terms of income level.

Author Biographies

Pekka Virtanen, University of Tampere

Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Social Sciences

Arja Jolkkonen, University of Eastern Finland

Senior Researcher, Karelian Institute

Pertti Koistinen, University of Tampere

Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Social Sciences. E-mail:

Arja Kurvinen, University of Eastern Finland

Senior Researcher, Karelian Institute

Liudmila Lipiäinen, University of Tampere

Researcher, Faculty of Social Sciences

Tapio Nummi, University of Tampere

University Lecturer, Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences


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How to Cite

Virtanen, P., Jolkkonen, A., Koistinen, P., Kurvinen, A., Lipiäinen, L., & Nummi, T. (2020). Are the Early Leavers the Lucky Ones?. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 11(1).