Predicting the Timing of Social Transitions from Personal, Social and Socio-Economic Resources of German Adolescents

Jana Gläßer, Wolfgang Lauterbach, Fred Berger


Social transitions are characterized by an increased heterogeneity in Western societies. Following the life course perspective, individual agency becomes central in shaping one’s life course. This article examines social transitions of adolescents using individual resource theory to explain differences of the timing of five transitions in partnership and family formation: the first sexual experience, the first intimate relationship, the first cohabitation, the first marriage, and the birth of the first child. Since little is so far known about how individual characteristics interact and influence the social transition to adulthood, we focus on the varying impacts of personal, social and socio-economic resources across the social life course. We use longitudinal data from the German LifE-Study, which focuses on the birth cohort of individuals born between 1965 and 1967. Using event history analysis, we find that the timing of the first sexual experience and first partnership transitions are mainly influenced by personal and social ressources, whereas socio-economic resources offer better explanations for the timing of entering marriage and parenthood. Most striking are the different explanatory models for women and men.


Social transitions; Partnership and family formation; Resources; Life course; Youth

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