Risk factors for being NEET among young people

This report identifies risk factors among teenagers that link to not being in employment, education or training (NEET) in early adulthood.
Intern With Supervisor Working In Busy Modern Warehouse On Computer
  • Authors:
    Gianfranco Addario
    Ekaterina Khriakova
    Joe Crowley
    Josefien Breedvelt
  • Publishing date:
    7 December 2023

About the study

This report explores the extent and degree of overlap between different forms of marginalisation among young people (aged 13 to 25) in England, and how experiencing multiple types of marginalisation may increase the risk of young people not being in employment, education, or training (NEET). This study was conducted using Next Steps, a national longitudinal cohort study following a sample of people born in 1989-90 from age 13/14 through to the age of 25. This covers the years 2004 to 2015. Five domains of marginalisation were explored, covering 19 individual risk factors.


The vast majority of young people were found to have experienced at least one risk factor. Only 8% of young people experienced none, 14% experienced only one, 52% experienced between two and five risk factors, and 23% experienced over six risk factors.

This report found that there was substantial overlap among different forms of marginalisation in the form of risk factors. Each risk factor was individually associated with an increased risk of a young person being NEET. And, having multiple risk factors was linked to a cumulative increase in their likelihood of being NEET.

Five risk factors were most strongly associated with NEET status among young people – not having an academic qualification above level 1, having a limiting disability, having a child, having poor mental health, and having special educational needs (SEN).

Using the NEET Risk Index, it is possible to identify broad groups of young people who may be at heightened risk of being NEET, as well identifying the risk faced by individuals based on their unique combinations of risk factors.


To identify which groups of young people in society were more at risk of being NEET, a NEET Risk Index was calculated based on the findings of the logistic regression analysis. This showed a number of groups to be at increased risk of being NEET. In particular, this identified young people who had lived in low-income households as children, young people who identified as either bisexual or ‘other’ when asked about their sexuality, and young people from Black ethnic groups and Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds. 

For this study NEET was measured as having been Not in Education, Employment or Training at the time of the survey conducted when the young person was age 18/19, 19/20, and age 25. There was an interval of four years in data collection, between 2010 and 2015, leading to the gap in the data for NEET status between age 20 and 25.