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Strings of Adulthood: A Sequence Analysis of Young British Women’s Work-Family Trajectories

Parcours de la vie adulte : Une analyse par séquence des trajectoires travail-famille des jeunes femmes britanniques
  • Arnstein Aassve
  • Francesco C. Billari
  • Raffaella Piccarreta
Article

Abstract

Employment, union formation and childbearing are central processes within young individuals’ transition to adulthood. These processes interact in highly complex ways, and they shape actual life-course trajectories that may be seen as a conceptual unit. In this article we use a methodology to cluster life-course experiences, where all three processes are embedded explicitly, in order to study young women’s trajectories in Great Britain. Drawing on a sample from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), we define life-courses as sequences on a monthly time scale and we apply optimal matching analysis to compute dissimilarities between individuals. We then use standard clustering algorithms and we identify nine distinctive groups of women. Our results are then shown using a new representation of clusters and interpreted in the light of the existing socio-demographic literature on the dynamic work-family link.

Keywords

Work-family trajectories Sequence analysis Transition to adulthood Life-course analysis BHPS 

Résumé

Le travail, la mise en union et la procréation sont des processus centraux dans le passage vers l’âge adulte. Ces processus interagissent de manière très complexe, et modèlent les trajectoires biographiques, qui peuvent être considérées comme une unité conceptuelle. Dans cet article, nous utilisons une méthodologie pour catégoriser des expériences biographiques, en considérant que les 3 processus sont explicitement imbriqués, de manière à étudier les trajectoires des jeunes femmes en Grande Bretagne. A partir d’un échantillon du Panel Britannique des Ménages («BHPS»), la biographie est découpée en séquences sur une base mensuelle, et une analyse d’appariement optimale est appliquée pour calculer les dissemblances entre individus. Des algorithmes d’analyse de groupes sont ensuite utilisés, permettant d’identifier 9 groupes distincts de femmes. Les résultats sont illustrés à l’aide d’une nouvelle représentation des groupes, et interprétés à la lumière de la littérature socio-démographique sur la dynamique des relations famille-travail.

Mots-clés

Trajectoires famille-travail Analyse par séquence Passage à l’âge adulte Analyse biographique BHPS 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to participants of the Workshop “Becoming an Adult: an International Perspective on the Transitions to Adulthood, Montreal, 15–17 June 2006”. as well as to two anonymous referees of this journal for very useful comments and suggestions. The data (and tabulations) used in this publication were made available through the UK Data Archive. The data were originally collected by the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-social Change at the University of Essex, now incorporated within the Institute for Social and Economic Research. Neither the original collectors of the data nor the Archive bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnstein Aassve
    • 1
  • Francesco C. Billari
    • 2
  • Raffaella Piccarreta
    • 3
  1. 1.ISERUniversity of EssexWivenhoe Park, ColchesterUK
  2. 2.Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, IMQ and IGIERUniversità BocconiMilanoItaly
  3. 3.IMQ and Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social DynamicsUniversità BocconiMilanoItaly

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