Stability and Change in the Transition to Adulthood: A Latent Structure Analysis of Three Generations in the National Longitudinal Surveys
Ross Macmillan, Università Bocconi
Frank Furstenberg, University of Pennsylvania
A key issue in the demography of the life course is the transition to adulthood in the latter quarter of the 20th Century. Viewed as an increasingly problematic enterprise, researchers point to modal shifts in the timing of roles, diminished or delayed role attainments, and the uncoupling of roles over time among recent generations. Using latent structure approaches, we model the multidimensional, longitudinal processes of role transitions across three generations of Americans drawn from the National Longitudinal Surveys (1966-2008). In formally modelling the longitudinal structure of the transition to adulthood, we pay explicit attention to within-group and between-group heterogeneity to map continuity and change over time. Results reveal the enduring importance of institutional contexts in the shaping of pathways, the important role of social and economic resources in determining pathways into adulthood, and the important connection between the two in shaping broad patterns of inequality through the life course.