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The purpose of this study is to investigate how well-being changes over the adult life course from early adulthood in 1998 through to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. We identify diverse well-being trajectories over time in a cohort of British Columbians and explore the extent to which changes in well-being associated with the pandemic varied for individuals in these different trajectory groups. Specifically, we ask: what was the effect of the pandemic on the well-being of individuals with different prior well-being trajectories over adulthood and how were these effects related to personal, educational and employment factors? To address this question, we model well-being trajectories over a large span of adulthood from the age of 28 to 51 years old. We find a diversity of distinct patterns in well-being changes over adulthood. The majority experience high well-being over time, while almost one in five experiences either chronically low or drastically decreased well-being in mid-adulthood, which coincides with the pandemic. Notably, those who have completed post-secondary education are less likely to report low well-being trajectories. Those with the lowest well-being over time also report the largest negative effects of the pandemic, which illustrates the compounding effects of the pandemic on existing inequalities.

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Research about the Flynn effect, the secular rise in IQ, is heavily based on conscript data from successive male birth cohorts. This inevitably means that two distinct phenomena are mixed: fertility differences by IQ group (‘compositional Flynn effect’), and any difference between parents and children (‘within-family Flynn effect’). Both will influence trends in cognitive ability. We focused on the latter phenomenon, exploring changes in cognitive abilities during adolescence within one generation, and between two successive generations within the same family. We identified determinants and outcomes in three linked generations in the Stockholm Multigenerational Study. School and conscript data covered logical/numerical and verbal scores for mothers at age 13, fathers at 13 and 18, and their sons at 18. Raw scores, and change in raw scores, were used as outcomes in linear regressions. Both parents’ abilities at 13 were equally important for sons’ abilities at 18. Boys from disadvantaged backgrounds caught up with other boys during adolescence. Comparing fathers with sons, there appeared to be a positive Flynn effect in logical/numeric and verbal abilities. This was larger if the father had a working-class background or many siblings. A Flynn effect was only visible in families where the father had low general cognitive ability at 18. We conclude that there is a general improvement in logical/numeric and verbal skills from one generation to the next, primarily based on improvement in disadvantaged families. The Flynn effect in Sweden during the later 20th century appears to represent a narrowing between social categories.

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While research has investigated the effects of the Great Recession on the Irish economy using economic indicators or cross-sectional household-level data, this research note applies group-based multitrajectory modelling to provide a more nuanced approach. Using nationally representative, longitudinal data from the Growing Up in Ireland study, we analyse patterns in three common measures of economic well-being (financial strain; disposable income; material deprivation) across Irish households in the period leading up to, during and after the Great Recession, and subsequently, break down the characteristics for each group of trajectories. We identify six distinct trajectory clusters, which all indicate declining income and increasing financial strain from the start to the height of the economic depression. However, trajectory groupings show that experiences were far from uniform, with previous economic well-being and demographic characteristics shaping the household experience. Implications for future research are discussed.

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Although a negative association between socio-economic inequalities and health has been established, there is a dearth of robust longitudinal studies examining this relationship in adolescents. This study used a large, nationally representative longitudinal data set to investigate the association between socio-economic inequality, subjective health status and disabilities among young people in Northern Ireland over a ten-year period. Data were from the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study, a census-based record linkage study (N = 46,535). Logistic regression models were estimated in which health and disability variables from the 2011 census were predicted by household deprivation in education, housing quality, housing tenure and employment from the 2001 census. Models were adjusted for health and disability status in 2001. Deprivation in employment, housing tenure and coming from a single-parent household in 2001 independently predicted poorer subjective health and disability status ten years later [ORs = 1.28–1.93]. Deprivation in education in 2001 was also associated with increased risk of disability in 2011 [OR = 1.15; 95% CI = 1.06–1.25]. These results show that there is a need to dedicate more resources and support for economically disadvantaged children and young people in Northern Ireland, where child health outcomes are poorer than in the rest of the UK.

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This article relies on a prospective qualitative study, that provides valuable insight into the mechanism through which the meaning of holidays is built over time. Following a life course perspective, the article analyses the continuities as well as the twists and turns of the meaning of Christmas in relation to significant turning points that occur along the paths of individual lives in transition to adulthood. Grounded on an inductive approach, the study draws on longitudinal qualitative data collected through solicited diaries, kept by 14 young Romanian adults, around Christmas time, along four panel waves (2004, 2010, 2016, 2020). Results show that there is no universal configuration of the meaning of Christmas, but rather a diversity of personalised dynamic configurations, in line with individuals’ subjective realities, which are sensitive to family traditions passed down during socialisation, and constantly updated with each generation that assumes them, but also to significant life events that occurred on their early adult life course trajectories, determining a re-evaluation of attitudes about self, life, religion and others. The article concludes that Christmas, as a social construct, is a malleable bearer of values, which acts both as a ‘sword’ and as a ‘shield’ that diarists use according to the needs, wishes and challenges that arise in their transition from adolescence to enhanced adulthood.

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This article draws on the Growing Up in Ireland study and the Scottish sample of the Millennium Cohort Study to explore the factors influencing inequalities in children’s cognitive skills on entry to primary education. It adopts a multidimensional comparative approach, which directly compares the effects of parental education and household income on several cognitive outcomes (vocabulary, language, reading and numbers) among five-year-old children and examines the extent to which inequalities in these outcomes are mediated by the home learning environment (HLE) and early childhood education (ECE). Home learning environment plays a stronger role in explaining actual vocabulary differences in Ireland while it plays a stronger role in school readiness (teacher-assessed skills) in Scotland. In both countries, use of centre-based care at 9 months and 3 years was markedly higher among the top income quintile. Centre-based care is found to play a mediating role in school readiness in Scotland. Nonetheless, the findings point to important direct effects of family background even when HLE and childcare are taken into account. The analyses point to differences in the trajectory of early skill development in the two countries, with the impact of early skill development being more marked in Scotland than Ireland. Comparative analyses of this kind thus yield important insights for policy development by highlighting potential domains (such as childcare) or timing (preschool or within-school) for intervention.

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Considerable evidence demonstrates that perceiving oneself as an object of discrimination has negative consequences for mental health. However, little is known about whether this experience is more or less harmful in distinct phases of the life course, consistent with the life course principle of timing; or whether, in accord with the principle of lifespan development, it has long-term implications. We draw on longitudinal data addressing perceived workplace discrimination based on race/ethnicity and gender from the prospective Youth Development Study, covering early adulthood to midlife. Hierarchical linear modelling of the effects of discrimination on depressed mood indicates that both forms of discrimination have short-term (within life stages) and long-term (across stages) adverse effects on adult mental health. The impacts of perceived discrimination within stages on depressed mood appear to be greatest in the mid-30s and to weaken by midlife. Lingering effects of discrimination are more pronounced early on. These patterns are observed with controls for key time-varying negative experiences at work and personal socio-economic status, as well as invariant background characteristics (gender, race and parental socio-economic status). We consider these findings in relation to the dynamics of personal change in the context of occupational careers.

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John Bynner is a leading advocate of considering context in life course research. In this paper I review some of the ways contextual information on time and place may enrich the analysis of individual histories, as well as vice versa. I take three examples from my own research: (1) a late 20th century analysis of adult health and mortality in Britain where individual and area level evidence are combined; (2) a cross-national analysis of neighbourhood and family predictors of child outcomes at age five in Britain and the US from the early 2000s; and (3) workplace as the context of segregation and the gender pay gap in Britain as it changed over several decades to 2015. The article ends with a discussion of the pros and cons of incorporating contextual evidence in longitudinal survey data sets with reference to the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which John Bynner helped to bring into existence.

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To extend work careers, it is important to focus on all working-aged people including young adults. The aim of this study was to identify typical patterns of work participation among young adults after their first entry into the labour market and to examine whether the timing of entry together with parental and own socio-economic position and health predict early work participation. More in-depth understanding of early careers and their early determinants is important to plan targeted interventions and to promote more stable work participation among young adults.

We used the Finnish Birth Cohort 1987 including data from several registers from all 59,476 children born in 1987 as well as their parents, followed until 2015. We estimated a mixture Markov model that allowed for joint identification of latent classes of labour-market attachment, estimation of labour-market transitions within classes, and prediction of class membership using childhood social and health-related determinants.

We observed that the first entry into the labour market as measured by six months in continuous employment was not a permanent entry for many, not only due to negative reasons such as unemployment and ill health but also due to more voluntary reasons such as studies. Individuals entering the labour market at a later age were more likely to be in continuous employment thereafter. More advantaged background predicted exits due to studies or – when following a late entry – stable employment, while disadvantaged background factors predicted more unstable work and long-term exits from the labour market.

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