9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN30 Youth and Generation

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Transition to Adulthood I Building II, Auditório B2.03

The Importance of Demographic Markers in the Transition to Adulthood in Europe

Transition to adulthood is usually regarded as a complex, multi-dimensional, "demographically dense" phase of the life-course. Successive life periods can be differentiated from one another on the basis of various criteria: biological or psychological development, chronological age, demographic markers, individualistic criteria or idiosyncratic events. All approaches acknowledge the relevance of life-course markers in this process, even if they doubt their relative importance. The traditional, event-based definition of the transition to adulthood examines such events as completion of schooling, entering employment, becoming financially independent, leaving the parental home, getting married and having children as the demographic markers of reaching adult status.
Many studies have investigated the timing of these markers in Europe to find an answer to the dilemma of convergence or divergence of behavior. However, the subjective importance of markers in the transition process has not been systematically examined and compared. The third wave of European Social Survey (ESS; 2006), containing data on 25 European countries, could help understand the similarities and differences in the conception of the transition to adulthood from an international perspective. ESS included questions on the importance of the following life-course events for a man or a woman to be considered adult: leaving the parental home, having a full-time job, living with a spouse or a partner and becoming parent. Our main question relates to the relative importance of these factors in the subjective construction of becoming adult: whether spatial and financial independence from parents or the establishment of one's own family is the most salient landmark of adulthood in different regions of Europe?
Both the national and individual levels are important if we want to understand the similarities and differences in the subjective construction of adulthood. We use multi-level analysis to estimate the effect of country-level institutional characteristics (e.g. educational system, housing and labor market), welfare regimes, values and attitudes (e.g. religion, the importance of work, family or children in life, the ideal age for different life transitions), as well as the actual occurrence and timing of events in the transition to adulthood of European men and women.