The Social Stratification of Choice in the Transition to Adulthood: A Comparative Perspective

Francesco C. Billari, University of Oxford
Nicole Hiekel, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Aart C. Liefbroer, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

This paper examines to what extent and through which mechanisms the socioeconomic background of young adults influences their family decisions in the transition to adulthood. We use data from two waves of the Generations and Gender Surveys to study this issue among young adults in six European countries (the Netherlands, Austria, France, Hungary, Bulgaria and Georgia). We find evidence that leaving home, entry into a first union and entry into parenthood are all socially stratified in (almost) all of these countries. We find additional evidence that part of this stratification results from the differential transmission of preferences and intentions among children with low and high SES backgrounds, and more limited evidence that differences in parental opportunities and resources between low and high SES families are important as well.

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Presented in Session 48: Families and Households in Comparative and Historical Perspective