Maturing in the Shadow of War: The Impact of Crises and Disasters on Young Adults – A Literature Review

The transition to adulthood is an important developmental stage in which young adults arrive at crucial decision-making crossroads and are required to make decisions in many areas. This phase is characterized by a high level of instability and can be challenging even in normal times; it can be particularly challenging during periods of crises and disasters. Ongoing exposure to threats, such as during a war, may disrupt the development processes in many areas of life, such as work, education, relationships and family, and this will affect a young person’s ability to achieve their goals and to flourish.

The economic and social impacts of the Israel-Hamas War on the country, the presence of youth at the events of October 2023 and the direct role they play in fighting the war highlight the need to examine the war’s potential effects on them. This review was written to provide policymakers and professionals with an overview of the challenges faced by young adults during crises and disasters, as well as the impact of such situations on various facets of their lives. The review was commissioned by the Youth Authority in the Ministry of the Negev, Galilee and National Resilience.

This document brings together findings of the literature on the sociodemographic characteristics that increase the risk of an adverse effect in crises and disasters; the challenges facing young adults in the areas of mental health, employment, education, housing, family relationships and identity formation; and also the factors that strengthen resilience which can help youth cope with the challenges they face.

Crises can be an opportunity for social and physical change in view of the extensive damage they cause to physical and social infrastructures. The reconstruction process can be exploited in order to make decisions about how to rebuild the damaged infrastructure and about ways to reduce inequalities that are particularly impactful for certain population groups. This document proposes several directions for addressing the impacts of the war on young adults in Israel.

Citing suggestion: Ben Simon, B., & Toporek Barr,  O. (2024). Maturing in the Shadow of War: The Impact of Crises and Disasters on Young Adults – A Literature Review. RR-997-24. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)