Sequence Analysis and Transition to Adulthood: An Exploration of the Access to Reproduction in Nineteenth-Century East Belgium

  • Michel Oris
  • Gilbert Ritschard
Part of the Life Course Research and Social Policies book series (LCRS, volume 2)


In the population history of European pre-industrial population, late marriage and high level of final celibacy are seen as the most important components of demographic regimes, avoiding an excessive demographic pressure on scarce resources. While during the last decades the scientific approach emphasized the study of individual life trajectories, life transitions are still often considered isolated from each other. In this paper, we look at marriage from an original perspective, as one event on the road to adulthood, whom the position in a given life course is related with other steps like leaving home, establishing a household, and the access to legitimate reproduction through a first birth. Sequence analysis is definitively the appropriate tool for a holistic and integrative approach of the various roads young men and women could take to enter into adulthood. Working on nineteenth century rural regions in East Belgium, we used TraMineR to reconstruct sequences and identified four clusters both for males and females. To complete this exploratory data-mining with an explanatory point of view, we proceeded to univariate ANOVA-like discrepancy analyses of the life trajectories, and then grew a regression tree for our sequences. Results show high level of complexities in rural, supposedly traditional societies, an exercise of individual agency in tolerant but also influent structures that resulted in a high diversity of personal trajectories and a global respect of the social order.


Family System Parental Home Household Formation Life Trajectory Daily Laborer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer New York Heidelberg Dordrecht London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Demographic and Life Course Studies, LIVESUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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