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Classifying life course trajectories: a comparison of latent class and sequence analysis

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  • Nicola Barban
  • Francesco C. Billari

Abstract

In this article we compare two techniques that are widely used in the analysis of life course trajectories, latent class analysis (LCA) and sequence analysis (SA). In particular, we focus on the use of these techniques as devices to obtain classes of individual life course trajectories. We first compare the consistency of the classification obtained via the two techniques using an actual dataset on the life course trajectories of young adults. Then, we adopt a simulation approach to measure the ability of these two methods to correctly classify groups of life course trajectories when specific forms of "random" variability are introduced within pre-specified classes in an artificial dataset. In order to do so, we introduce simulation operators that have a life course and/or observational meaning. Our results contribute on the one hand to outline the usefulness and robustness of findings based on the classification of life course trajectories through LCA and SA, on the other hand to illuminate the potential pitfalls of actual applications of these techniques.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-9876.2012.01047.x
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Statistical Society in its journal Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series C (Applied Statistics).

Volume (Year): 61 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 (November)
Pages: 765-784

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jorssc:v:61:y:2012:i:5:p:765-784

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  1. Christian Brzinsky-Fay & Ulrich Kohler, 2010. "New Developments in Sequence Analysis," Sociological Methods & Research, , vol. 38(3), pages 359-364, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Maria Sironi & Nicola Barban & Roberto Impiacciatore, 2013. "The Role of Parental Social Class in the Transition to Adulthood: A Sequence Analysis Approach in Italy and the United States," Working Papers 059, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.

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