Varieties of Life Course Patterns: The Role of Institutions in Shaping Labour Market Careers in Europe

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The project focuses on the examination of life course patterns, in particular of labour market careers, through a demographic lens. We use a population-based approach to explore cross-national differences in the structure of ‘typical’ life course patterns. A comparative analysis of life course patterns in the EU-25 enables us to gain important insights as to how institutional contexts shape the life course. The research team includes people with different research interests in a project that takes a multi-dimensional life-course perspective. Knowledge on how life course patterns may vary across countries is very limited. This is because empirical evidence on national differences has largely been drawn from studies of small non-nationally representative samples of respondents. EqualSoc members connected to one of the partner institutes have access to the micro-data from the EU Labour Force Survey (1983-2005). Due to their unique sample size these data provide the ideal basis for a fine-grained investigation of people’s economic activity across the different stages of the life-course and family life-cycle. The data allow us to account for within-country variations in people’s work-life biographies that cannot be captured by smaller-scale comparative survey data. A multi-country study based on the EULFS also provides us with the opportunity to investigate the hitherto under-researched life course patterns in the post-socialist countries. Moreover, given that for many countries data is available for long periods of time, it allows for an in-depth analysis of temporal change in institutional contexts and the consequences of such changes on work/life biographies. The research will be based on a common methodology (multilevel models for a repeated cross-sectional research design).

European EqualSoc Network on Economic Change, Quality of Life & Social Cohesion