Similarity in Transition to Adulthood of Friends and School Mates

Nicola Barban , University of Essex
Nicoletta Balbo, Bocconi University
Anette E. Fasang, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Previous research on ‘linked lives’ has mainly focused on similarity in life course outcomes of parents and children, between siblings or spouses, neglecting the potentially powerful impact of friends and schoolmates. This paper uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health (Add Health) to investigate the similarity of life course trajectories in the transition to adulthood of a national representative sample of young women in the US. Using recent methodological innovation in sequence analysis, we first estimate the similarity in life course trajectories among friends and peers. In the second part of the paper we combine sequence analysis to causal inference to estimate the causal effect of friends’ life course transitions in respondents’ transition to parenthood, marriage and cohabitation. Results indicate that friend’ trajectories are more similar than random school-mates but less than siblings. Although friends seem to have a direct effect on transition to adulthood, the effect is reduced once we control for previous trajectories and other confounders.

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 Presented in Session 110. Life Course: Linked Lives