Comparing methods of classifying life courses: Sequence analysis and latent class analysis

C.H. Elzinga, Aart C. Liefbroer, Sapphire Han

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We compare life course typology solutions generated by sequence analysis (SA) and latent class analysis (LCA). First, we construct an analytic protocol to arrive at typology solutions for both methodologies and present methods to compare the empirical quality of alternative typologies. We apply this protocol to develop and compare SA- and LCA-derived family-life typologies for women born between 1960 and 1964 in 15 European countries, using data from the Family and Fertility Survey. This paper contributes to the use of these classification techniques in four different ways. First, we present guidelines on how to establish the number of classes or clusters to use. Second, we show how to evaluate the stability of these clusters. Third, we provide a way to evaluate the validity of these clusters and finally, we provide for a formal heuristic to relate the stochastically defined latent classes to the distance-based clusters found with SA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319–341
Number of pages23
JournalLongitudinal and Life Course Studies
Issue number4
Early online date26 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union 嬁退 ?eventh Framework ?rogramme 縀F? -2? 01? 3)/? ER?C G? rant Agreement n. 324178 (Project: Contexts of Opportunity. PI: Aart C. Liefbroer). The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their stimulating comments to earlier versions of this article.

FundersFunder number
European Research Council


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