Unaccompanied minors are faced with language barriers, lack the traditional support network offered by parents, and usually possess limited educational experience. They have shown particularly high risk for long-term economic instability. Unaccompanied minors in the Netherlands are provided educational opportunities both in schools and through social service organizations before and after their 18th birthdays. The goal is that they achieve a stable place in the labor market and become economically self-sufficient. However, evidence suggests that former unaccompanied minors struggle to reach that goal as defined by government policy. This thesis sets out to understand how learning opportunities have shaped the economic self-sufficiency of former unaccompanied minors. It begins by unpacking what economic selfsufficiency means to them and goes on to explores the role learning experiences in the Netherlands have had, and are expected to have, on their economic self-sufficiency. Semi-structured interviews carried out with 17 former unaccompanied minors in two municipal regions in the Netherlands showed that former unaccompanied minors have enough to access living essentials often but must make difficult decisions between providing for future economic security and living with dignity in the present. Access to learning opportunities facilitates positive outcomes for some former unaccompanied minors, but structural circumstances constrain their educational paths and determine – in part – how, when, and to what degree they gain economic self-sufficiency. The capabilities approach of Amartya Sen helped with exploration of the themes in this study. Using contributions from the participants and incorporating understanding of agency as both a component and a catalyst, economic self-sufficiency is reconceptualized.

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Dr. Laura Ripoll Gonzalez, Dr. Maria Schiller
Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Rachel Krebs. (2023, August 12). Learning to pay with pennies. Public Administration. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/69881