The social stratification of choice in the transition to adulthood

Francesco C. Billari, Nicole Hiekel, Aart C. Liefbroer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The occurrence and timing of major demographic decisions in the transition to adulthood is strongly stratified, with young adults with a high socio-economic status (SES) background usually experiencing many of these events later than young adults with a low SES background. To explain this social stratification, we outline a theoretical framework in which social stratification affects choice in the transition to adulthood through three, potentially reinforcing, pathways: stratified socialization, stratified agency, and stratified opportunity. We test our framework against longitudinal data from two waves of the Generations and Gender Surveys for Austria, Bulgaria, and France. We find evidence for the importance of all three pathways. Furthermore, processes differ little by gender, age and country context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-615
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number5
Early online date1 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement n. 324178 (Project: Contexts of Opportunity. PI: Aart C. Liefbroer).

FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework ProgrammeFP/2007-2013, 324178
European Research Council


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