3 years ago

Life course research with panel data: An analysis of the reproduction of social inequality

Josef Brüderl, Fabian Kratz, Gerrit Bauer

Publication date: Available online 28 September 2018

Source: Advances in Life Course Research

Author(s): Josef Brüderl, Fabian Kratz, Gerrit Bauer


Panel data are increasingly used in life course research. However, such data would be under-analyzed if only classical methods of life course research (i.e., event-history analysis and sequence analysis) would be used for analyzing them. Methods developed for the analysis of panel data have been shown to be valuable to life course research as well. In this article we emphasize that growth curve modeling and fixed effects regression in particular can supplement the life course research toolbox.

In order to demonstrate this, we provide an illustrative panel data analysis using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel from the years 1984–2014 in combination with a classical sociological research question on the reproduction of social inequality. Reinterpreted within the life course framework, we ask: Is there a well-being differential over the life course between people from different social origins? If yes, what is the mediating role of unemployment?

Results show that higher social origin indeed relates to higher well-being, and that the well-being differential increases with age. Further, unemployment plays no significant role in mediating origin-specific effects of age on well-being.

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