The Scarring Effect of First Job Precarity: New Evidence from a Panel Study in Hong Kong

Duoduo XU*, Shuheng JIN, Ngai PUN, Jiao GUO, Xiaogang WU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Does entering the labour market via precarious employment have a long-term scarring effect on one’s career? Prior research proposes diverse arguments, but firm conclusions remain elusive. Using panel data from Hong Kong, this study rekindles this debate by revealing the long-lasting effect of first job precarity on workers’ subsequent career prospects. A comprehensive measure of precarious employment is constructed to simultaneously account for employment status, contractual status and occupational status, and random effects models are used to test the scarring effect of first job precarity on subsequent monthly income, job satisfaction and fringe benefits. It is also observed that macroeconomic situations, particularly periods of economic crisis, have a detrimental effect on entry into precarious employment. Importantly, the results show the substantial negative consequences of initial precarious employment, highlighting the adverse impact of economic crises on first job precarity and the subsequent scarring effect on career prospects.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Early online date2 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research is funded by the Early Career Scheme (27604821) from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC) to Duoduo Xu. The data collection of the Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics (HKPSSD) was funded by the RGC-Central Policy Unit Strategic Public Policy Research Scheme (HKUST6001-SPPR-08), the European Research Council Start-up Grant (ERC StG 716837), and the Collaborative Research Fund (C6011-16GF) from the Hong Kong RGC to Xiaogang Wu, who was previoulsy affiliated with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Xiaogang Wu also ackowleges funding support from a Key Program Grant of the China’s National Office for Philosophy and Social Sciences (22AZD101) and the Center for Applied Social and Economic Research at NYU Shanghai. Ngai Pun acknowledges funding support from Global China Social Research Cluster, Faculty of Social Sciences, HKU.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • economic crisis
  • first job
  • Hong Kong
  • labour market outcomes
  • precarious employment
  • scarring effect


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