Destination as a process: Sibling similarity in early socioeconomic trajectories

This paper proposes a process-oriented life course perspective on intergenerational mobility by comparing the early socioeconomic trajectories of siblings to those of unrelated persons. Based on rich Finnish register data (N = 21,744), the findings show that social origin affects not only final outcomes at given points in the life course but also longitudinal socioeconomic trajectories from ages 17–35 in early adulthood. We contribute to previous literature in three ways. First, we show that there is a pronounced similarity in the early socioeconomic trajectories of siblings. This similarity is stronger for same-sex siblings and stronger for brothers than for sisters. Second, we show that sibling similarity in full trajectories cannot be reduced to similarity in outcomes, i.e., siblings are not only more similar in the final outcomes that they obtain but also in the pathways that lead them to these outcomes. Third, our findings support that sibling similarity follows a U-shaped pattern by social class, i.e., similarity is especially strong in disadvantaged trajectories, weak among middle-class young adults, and increases again within the most advantaged trajectories. We conclude that measures of social mobility that concentrate on final outcomes are at risk of underestimating the association between social origin and destination because social inequalities are formed across the life course, not just at the end of specific life phases.

Family, Firms, and Fertility: A Study of Social Interaction Effects

Research has indicated that fertility spreads through social networks and attributed this phenomenon to social interaction effects. It remains unclear, however, whether the findings of previous studies reflect the direct influence of network partners or contextual and selection factors, such as shared environment and common background characteristics. The present study uses instrumental variables to improve the identification of social interaction effects on fertility. Using data from the System of social statistical data sets (SSD) of Statistics Netherlands, we identify two networks—the network of colleagues at the workplace and the network of siblings in the family—to examine the influence of network partners on individual fertility decisions. Discrete-time event-history models with random effects provide evidence for social interaction effects, showing that colleagues’ and siblings’ fertility have direct consequences for an individual’s fertility. Moreover, colleague effects are concentrated in female-female interactions, and women are more strongly influenced by their siblings, regardless of siblings’ gender. These results are the first to demonstrate spillover effects across network boundaries, suggesting that fertility effects accumulate through social ties not only within but also across different domains of interaction.

Family Size and the Persistency of Poverty following Divorce: The United States in Comparative Perspective

Studies have documented the negative association between divorce and women’s economic wellbeing in several countries. Less is known about whether the effects of divorce on women’s economic wellbeing vary by family size and their persistency. However, larger families are likely more vulnerable to the economic consequences of divorce, and more children are exposed to these consequences in larger families. We present the first comprehensive assessment of how the short-term and medium-term economic consequences of divorce vary by family size. Using data from the US (PSID) and between-within random-effects models, we estimate changes in women’s poverty risk up to six years following divorce, stratified by the number of children in the household in the year of divorce. We add a comparative perspective using a harmonized set of socio-economic panel surveys from Australia (HILDA), Germany (GSOEP), Switzerland (SHP), and the UK (BHPS). In the US, short-term negative effects of divorce on the risk of poverty increase with family size, but differences vanish in the medium term. Similar trends are found in all study countries, although family size differences are larger in Germany and the US than in Australia, Switzerland, and the UK. Our findings suggest that the presence and number of children increase women’s poverty risk only temporarily. Although women with children are less likely to recuperate by means of remarriage, they are more likely to recuperate by reducing the needs of the household and increasing their labor market intensity.

The Complexity of Employment & Family Life Courses across 20th Century Europe: An Update

Whether work and family lives became more unstable over the past decades has been debated. Most studies on life course instability focus on single countries tracing birth cohorts over time. Two recent studies benchmarked change in employment and family instability over time against cross-national differences in 14 European countries. Findings showed minor increases in employment and family instability compared to sizeable and stable cross-national differences, but were criticised for not including cohorts born past the late 1950s. We update their findings by adding over 15 additional countries and a decade of younger birth cohorts. Results still support a negligible increase in family instability, but a moderate increase in employment instability relative to consistently larger cross-national differences. Beyond previous studies our analyses show a polarization between countries with low and high family complexity. In contrast, moderately increasing employment instability seems to be a Europe-wide trend.

Parenthood Wage Gaps across the Life-Course: An Intersectional Comparison by Gender and Race

Objective: Parenthood wage gaps are mapped over the life course for white, Black and Hispanic men and women by the number of children in the US.

Background: For white women, research indicates that motherhood penalties only persist over the life course if they have three or more children. It is unknown how stable parenthood wage gaps are for fathers and mothers of other racial backgrounds.

Methods: Age-specific parenthood wage gaps from ages 20-45 are estimated using data from the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Studies of Youth (NLSY79 and NLSY97) and fixed effects models.

Results: Only white women with three or more children suffer an adjusted motherhood penalty at age 45. For Black and Hispanic mothers, penalties are concentrated around age 30 and then attenuate irrespective of the number of children. Fatherhood premiums are confined to very early adulthood for white men.

Conclusions: Parenthood wage gaps are concentrated in brief periods of the life course. Enduring penalties only occur for white mothers with many children and signify white women’s advantage compared to women of color in two respects: 1) the penalty occurs relative to high earnings of childless white women, which are unattainable for childless women of color, and 2) white mothers with many children enjoy higher household incomes compared to their Black and Hispanic peers, which decreases the economic pressure to earn own income.

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Intersectional inequalities in work and family life courses by gender and race

Which privileges and constraints do members of differently empowered groups face when combining work and family? Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), we analyze intersectional inequalities in work and family life courses at the intersection of gender and race. We focus on work-family life courses of black and white men and women from an intersectional quantitative life course perspective. Results from recent techniques in sequence analysis show a weak link between work and family lives for white men. They typically have the privilege of possibility to combine any type of family life course with any type of work career. In contrast, family formation processes tend to constrain work careers and vice versa for other groups at the intersection of gender and race. We contribute to the literature by showing the privilege of possibilities for white men and specific constraints that black and white women, and black men face when combining family and work life. Among others, findings also highlight a sizeable group of resourceful black single mothers, who hold stable middle class jobs. They often go unnoticed in previous research with a deficit orientation on a group of black early single mothers who muddle through precarious instable careers and welfare dependence that we also find in our study.