Household headship as a dimension of transitions to adulthood

Elwood Carlson, Florida State University

The third decade of life from ages 20 through 29 is the heart of the normative age range for the transition to adulthood. Trajectories related to school, jobs, marriage and household headship observed in this age range give good indications of the overall shape and speed of the entire transition process. Evidence related to this third decade of life comes from international integrated public use microdata samples (IPUMS-I) from the United States, France, Austria and Italy. In Austria and Italy the links between household headship and marriage remain strong. In France and the United States, the role of paid worker in the labor force increasingly supplants family roles as a basis for headship. But in all four studied countries, young adults also are taking up the householder role without either of these traditional institutionalized supports as prerequisites, and sometimes while still engaged in the formerly non-adult role of enrolled student. Living as head of a separate household is becoming a marker in its own right for adult status.

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Presented in Session 2: Families and households