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Life Course as a Policy Lens: Challenges and Opportunities

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  • Susan McDaniel
  • Paul Bernard

Abstract

This set of research studies on the life course as a policy lens springs from research and discussions over more than a year and a half among academic researchers and policy analysts. The six empirical studies in this special issue all rely on the life-course perspective to extend the reach of the perspective into areas with policy relevance that have not been examined previously with a life-course lens. The studies examine aboriginal health, social participation, housing instability and evictions, earnings trajectories, and late-life transitions. Key conclusions overall from the project are that (1) Canada may have an early lead in conceptual thinking on life course as a policy lens, giving us the momentum to push this advantage further; (2) the life-course perspective focuses less on individual trajectories and more on the ongoing interactions of individuals with social structures, particularly structures of inequality and life-course scripts; (3) the conceptualization of the life course as a tale of path dependency, gravity, and shocks focuses attention on social circumstances rather than on individual choices; (4) a life-course perspective for policy-makers is more realistic, more attuned to the reality experienced by social actors, and social actors accordingly recognize themselves in policies; and (5) the life-course perspective offers the possibility of making social actors, researchers, and policy-makers work more in tandem.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan McDaniel & Paul Bernard, 2011. "Life Course as a Policy Lens: Challenges and Opportunities," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 37(s1), pages 1-13, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:37:y:2011:i:s1:p:1-13
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/cpp.37.suppl.s1
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    Cited by:

    1. Hannah Zagel, 2015. "Understanding Differences in Labour Market Attachment of Single Mothers in Great Britain and West Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 773, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Zagel, Hannah, 2015. "Understanding differences in labour market attachment of single mothers in Great Britain and West Germany," Working papers of the ZeS 03/2015, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).

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