Making It? Paths to Achieving and Not Achieving Aspirations in the Transition to Adulthood

Jessica H. Hardie, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

How do life course transitions in young adulthood and family background factors contribute to the failure to attain educational and occupational aspirations? This paper uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 and the National Educational Longitudinal Study to understand why many young adults fall short of their aspirations for schooling and work. I demonstrate that life course transitions and the timing of these events, particularly family formation and dissolution, contribute to the likelihood that a young person will fail to attain his or her aspirations by adulthood. I also find support for previous research that has pointed to the importance of family background in predicting attainment. Finally, I provide evidence of stability and change between two cohorts of youth, born approximately 14 years apart.

  See paper

Presented in Session 149: Changes over Time in the Transition to Adulthood