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The Role of Parental Social Class in the Transition to Adulthood: A Sequence Analysis Approach in Italy and the United States

  • Maria Sironi
  • Nicola Barban
  • Roberto Impiacciatore

Compared to older cohorts, young adults in developed societies delay their transition to adulthood. Yet within cohorts, variations in timing and sequencing of events still remain. A major determinant of life course events is social class. This characteristic can influence the sequence of events in terms of socioeconomic inequalities through a different availability of opportunities for social mobility. Several studies show that in North America, a higher familial status tends to decrease the complexity of trajectories, while the opposite effect has been found in Southern Europe. This research examines the sequence of transitions, highlighting in a comparative perspective how life trajectories are influenced by parental social class in the United States and Italy. The main result of the analysis is that the effect of parental background is different across countries. In the United States, we find that a high status favors not only a higher education and an early entry in the labor market, but also a higher heterogeneity of states and the occurrence of new behaviors like single living and cohabitation. In Italy, the effect of social class is gender-specific. Among men, a higher social class tends to delay transitions more than lead towards modern behaviors. Among women, a higher social class either tends to facilitate the experience of a more modern and independent transition, or it generates a higher probability of postponing exit from the parental home, and then family formation, among those who completed their education and found a job.

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Paper provided by "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in its series Working Papers with number 059.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:don:donwpa:059
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  1. Cees H. Elzinga, 2010. "Complexity of Categorical Time Series," Sociological Methods & Research, , vol. 38(3), pages 655-656, February.
  2. Nicola Barban & Francesco Billari, 2011. "Classifying life course trajectories: A comparison of latent class and sequence analysis," Working Papers 041, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  3. Maria Sironi & Frank F. Furstenberg, 2012. "Trends in the Economic Independence of Young Adults in the United States: 1973–2007," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 38(4), pages 609-630, December.
  4. Fernando Rajulton & Zenaida Ravanera & Roderic Beaujot, 2007. "Measuring Social Cohesion: An Experiment using the Canadian National Survey of Giving, Volunteering, and Participating," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 80(3), pages 461-492, February.
  5. Arnstein Aassve & Simon Burgess & Andrew Chesher & Carol Propper, 2002. "Transitions from home to marriage of young Americans," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(1), pages 1-23.
  6. Silke Aisenbrey & Anette E. Fasang, 2010. "New Life for Old Ideas: The "Second Wave" of Sequence Analysis Bringing the "Course" Back Into the Life Course," Sociological Methods & Research, , vol. 38(3), pages 420-462, February.
  7. Nicola Barban, 2011. "Family trajectories and health: A life course perspective," Working Papers 039, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  8. Gary Pollock, 2007. "Holistic trajectories: a study of combined employment, housing and family careers by using multiple-sequence analysis," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 170(1), pages 167-183.
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