9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN30 Youth and Generation

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Transition to Adulthood III Building II, Auditório B2.04

Social markers and norms on transitions to adulthood: comparing 23 European countries

Do individuals perceive transitions to adulthood as being associated to proper timings of specific life events? Are these supposed to follow a particular sequence? Do different social markers and norms have more or less importance in the definition of becoming an "adult"? And do these vary according to country, gender, age or level of education?
Using data from the European Social Survey - Round 3, we analysed several indicators regarding social markers and norms on transitions to adulthood in 23 European countries.
Differences between and within countries were found. These do not reproduce only geographically based clusters of countries, but a more diversified patterning of attitudes on transitions to adulthood across European societies. Specifically, results show that some countries give more importance to residential autonomy and having a full-time job in becoming an adult, while others seem to emphasise family related events, such as living with a partner or having children. However, at the individual level, we were able to identify four different and distinct clusters of individuals regarding these social markers and norms on transitions to adulthood: 1) those who clearly express a more "destandardised" attitude regarding transitions to adulthood, i.e., individuals who do not attribute much importance to any of the social markers; 2) those who express a more "standardised" attitude, as they consider all social markers important; 3) those who give more importance to family related social markers (get married; have children) and less importance to more "individualistic" social markers (residential and financial autonomy); 4) those who, in contrast, consider social markers regarding residential and financial autonomy as more important in becoming an adult. We were able to compare countries in terms of these different clusters, where for example Nordic countries present higher percentages of individuals with "destandardised" and "individualistic" attitudes, in contrast to the situation of Portugal, where there is a high percentage of individuals with a more "standardised" attitude regarding transitions to adulthood. We also extended our analysis by gender, age group, level of education and religious attendance, to get a better insight into the characteristics of the individuals composing these four clusters.