Life course linkages session abstracts

Tuesday 10 September, 9.00am

Coping with complex individual histories: A comparison of life course methods with an application to partnership transitions in Norway
Julia Mikolai, Mark Lyons-Amos, University of Southampton

As variation in the pattern of family life courses has increased over the past 50 years, the techniques available to analyse life course data have also expanded. While event history analysis is commonly applied, this is not always suitable, and more holistic approaches such as sequence analysis have been proposed as alternatives. As research tends to be interested in explaining more complexity in the family life course, it is necessary to extend our methodological toolkit by applying other promising methods, such as multistate event history models and latent class growth models. The aim of this paper is to compare and contrast event history models, sequence analysis, multistate models and latent class growth curve models to studying the family life course. The advantages and weaknesses of each of these methods are highlighted by applying them to the same empirical problem. Using data from the first wave of the Norwegian Generations and Gender Survey from 2007/2008, restricted to a subset of the 1955-1964 birth cohort, we model changes in partnership status across the life course, with education as the primary covariate of interest.

The role of parental social class in the transition to adulthood: a Sequence Analysis Approach in Italy and the United States
Maria Sironi, University of Pennsylvania; Nicola Barban, University of Groningen; Roberto Impicciatore, University of Milan

In comparison to older cohorts, younger men and women in the developed societies delay their transition to adulthood and follow more complex trajectories. However, within cohorts there remain variations in timing and sequencing of events. Two of the major determinants of life course events related to transition to adulthood, and in particular family formation, are gender and social class. These two characteristics can influence the sequence of events characterizing the transition to adulthood in terms of socioeconomic inequalities through a different availability of opportunities for social mobility. The aim of the research is to examine in details the sequences of transitions highlighting, in a comparative perspective, how the life trajectories are influenced by parental social class and gender in the US and Italy.

Parental background, intergenerational educational mobility and timing of first birth
Adrienne Duta, University of Southampton

This study aims to contribute to a long-standing debate in the literature regarding social mobility and fertility. Previous research focused mostly on the quantum dimension of fertility in relation to intergenerational class mobility. In this study, a less explored dimension of fertility is investigated, namely timing of first birth, and the intergenerational mobility measure is redefined as intergenerational educational mobility in order to accommodate the fertility dimension under study. The data used in this research come from BHPS (British Household Panel Study). The modelling strategy starts with more conventional approaches used to model mobility outcomes and it combines, for the first time, discrete-time hazard models with diagonal mobility models which are widely preferred in current studies analysing the outcomes associated with social mobility. The research questions to be answered are the following: (1) Does parents’ education influence timing of first birth over and above respondent’s education? (2) Does intergenerational educational mobility influence timing of first birth over and above parents’ education and respondent’s education? (3) Is the timing of first birth of mobile individuals more similar to non-mobile individuals in the group of destination or to the non-mobile individuals in the group of origin? (4) How do these vary by gender and cohort? Answering these questions will improve our knowledge of how individuals’ lives are connected to the lives of their parents, what is the interplay between ascription-related, achievement-related educational characteristics and timing of first birth, and whether intergenerational educational mobility matters for the timing of first birth.

Impacts of NEET experiences on social and health outcomes: an analysis using the Scottish Longitudinal Study
Kevin Ralston, Gillian Raab, Chris Dibben, Zhiqiang Feng, University of St Andrews

The high proportion of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) is considered a serious social problem and has drawn considerable attention from academic researchers and policy makers in Britain. Being left out of employment or education at a young age may have long lasting effects in later life. However, there have been theoretical debates on the consequences of the NEET experiences, and so far empirical studies have yielded mixed results. This paper aims to investigate whether experiences of being NEET have adverse effects on later life chances in the Scottish context, where the prevalence of NEETs is persistently high in comparison with other parts of Britain. We used the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS), which is a 5.3% representative sample of the Scottish population We followed young people who were aged 16-19 in 1991 to 2001 when they were aged 26-29. Our outcome variables are economic activities, limiting long term illness and lone parent status. We used descriptive and modelling approaches in our analysis. Our research found that in 1991 NEETs were more likely to be of older (within the 16 to 19 age range), female, with lower qualifications, and to report limiting long illness. The NEET status in 1991 appears to be associated with negative social and health outcomes in 2001 but the strength of association varies with the type of outcome.