Longitudinal and Life Course Studies' Most Read Articles

Enjoy gratis access to Longitudinal and Life Course Studies' top 5 most downloaded articles published in 2023 until 29 February. 

Longitudinal and Life Course Studies Most Read Articles

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This study explored how middle-aged workers’ career trajectory patterns were associated with their financial security later in life. Grounded by a life course perspective, we approached their career trajectories by considering a ‘human agency within structure’ framework. We explored sequences of employment status, starting with their lifetime main job to subsequent jobs after contractual retirement, using data from 1,010 middle-aged adults in Seoul, South Korea. The sequence analysis identified six career trajectory patterns. Stable career patterns included the Permanent to permanent trajectory as well as the Permanent to self-employment trajectory and these were most common among males with higher education degrees, higher earnings and better career alignment. Unstable career patterns such as the Temporary to temporary trajectory, the Permanent to temporary trajectory or the Churning trajectory were most common among those who were female, had lower levels of education lower earnings or had retired involuntarily. Further results showed that unstable career patterns were associated with lower levels of monthly earnings and total assets post–contractual retirement. Individuals with unstable career patterns were also less likely to be financially prepared for retirement. We suggest individualising education programmes for retirement preparation based on various career trajectories and demographic attributes to aid middle-aged adults in preparing for financial security later in life.

Open access

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.

Open access

Employment re-entry opportunities decrease with age. For middle-aged welfare benefit recipients, employment obstacles connected to age exacerbate further disadvantages connected to welfare receipt. At the same time, there is considerable diversity in middle-aged welfare benefit recipients’ long-term employment trajectories, which has thus far received little attention. Policies aim to increase labour market participation at higher ages. To this end, it is important to understand specific difficulties and to be realistic when formulating goals for people with very diverse types of employment histories. Using large-scale register data, this paper’s focus is on a cohort aged 45–54 in August 2012 in Germany. Sequence analysis aids in identifying characteristics relevant to employment histories over the past 19 years, from January 1993 to July 2012. Subsequent employment outcomes over the time span September 2012 to December 2018 are investigated, differentiating between jobs of different quality, and effects of training programmes on these outcomes are analysed using entropy balancing methods. Findings are that middle-aged welfare recipients’ employment biographies are very diverse, ranging from very little employment experience, over long histories of intermittent employment, to long continuous employment histories. Employment history attributes significantly affect employment prospects. The analyses further show that it is not too late to invest in skills, independent of employment history type.

Open access

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unexpected disruptions to Western countries which affected women more adversely than men. Previous studies suggest that gender differences are attributable to: women being over-represented in the most affected sectors of the economy, women’s labour market disadvantage as compared to their partners, and mothers taking a bigger share childcare responsibilities following school closures. Using the data from four British nationally representative cohort studies, we test these propositions. Our findings confirm that the adverse labour market effects were still experienced by women a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and that these effects were the most severe for women who lived with a partner and children, even if they worked in critical occupations. We show that adjusting for pre-pandemic job characteristics attenuates the gaps, suggesting that women were over-represented in jobs disproportionately affected by COVID-19 pandemic. However, the remaining gaps are not further attenuated by adjusting for the partner’s job and children characteristics, suggesting that the adversities experienced by women were not driven by their relative labour market position, as compared to their partners or childcare responsibilities. The residual gender differences observed in the rates of active, paid work and furlough for those who live with partner and children point to the importance of unobserved factors such as social norms, preferences, or discrimination. These effects may be long-lasting and jeopardise women’s longer-term position through the loss of experience, leading to reinforcement of gender inequalities or even reversal of the progress towards gender equality.

Open access

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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