Does social origin shape the transition to adulthood? A cross-national European comparison

Adriana Duta, University of Southampton
Melinda Mills, University of Groningen

In an era dominated by major societal transformations, European societies are experiencing many changes in the life course. One of the most significant areas of changes has occurred in the transition to adulthood, this being now characterized as late, protracted and complex (Bilari&Liefbroer,2010). Although sociologists have extensively researched the important role of social origins on the transition to different life events, with few exceptions, their contribution generally provides a fragmented picture. There is little empirical research on the impact of social origins on the entire adulthood trajectory in order to answer if the importance of social origins has also changed once with the emergence of a new specific pathway to adulthood. Moreover, in previous research, although important, the role of the mother has been neglected. Therefore, in this study, social origin is measured by occupation and education of both mother and father. The aim of this paper is to unravel the influences of social origins on the transition to adulthood, employing a life course perspective. Relying on data from the third wave of the European Social Survey, the current paper examines the effect of social origins on people’s entire adulthood trajectory (leaving parental home, first job, first cohabitation, first marriage and first child) from age 15 to age 35, across four groups of cohorts, from 20 European countries, accounting for 5 welfare regimes in Europe. We ask how this effect varies by cohort, welfare regime but also by gender and when accounting for respondent’s education and occupation. Trajectories were built based on a 14-state model of transition to adulthood, employing sequence analysis. Using optimal matching techniques, clusters of trajectories were generated which were subsequently used as dependent variable in a multinomial logistic regression. Finally, covariates of interest and specific interactions were inserted.

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Presented in Poster Session 3