The ideal and de facto timetable for transition to adulthood in Europe: A comparative view from the ESS

Teresa Martin Garcia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Teresa Castro Martin, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Using recent data from the Round 3 of the European Social Survey (ESS 2006/2007), this study will provide a detailed comparative picture as whether there are similarities/differences across European countries with regard to: (a) the actual timing of key life events in the transition to adulthood; and (b) attitudes regarding the ideal age and sequencing norms of early life course transitions. The ESS offers comparable information across countries through a standardized interview questionnaire, methodology and procedure. We will try to elucidate whether such similarities/differences among young adults are linked to economic constraints (e.g. unstable attachment to the labour market) or lifestyle options (e.g. inclination to postpone the assumption of long-term family commitments). First, we will perform a comparative analysis of individuals’ age at living the parental home, age at first union, age at first marriage, and age at parenthood across European societies. Then, we will compare the age norms that govern the timetable of these key transitions across societies, as well as the gap between ideal and actual timing of early life course transitions. We will also explore cross-national variations in the conception of adulthood, assessing how important is it for a person to have left the parental home, to have a full-time job, to have a spouse or to have children to be considered an adult across countries. Similarities/differences will also be shown regarding before/after what age women/men are considered too young/too old to do or experience certain things such as leaving the educational system, having first sexual intercourse, living with a partner, marrying or becoming parents. In so doing, not only will we be able to capture inter-country differences, but also intra-country differences according to gender or educational level.

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Presented in Poster Session 1