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Exploring life-course trajectories in local spatial contexts across Sweden

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posted on 15.02.2021, 19:52 by Bo Malmberg, Eva K. Andersson
Longitudinal register data makes it possible to analyse how life-course trajectories are formed in local contexts, and also how trajectories are linked to individual spatial mobility. This paper focus on young adults and on how their lives are structured in terms of life-course trajectories with respect to education, employment and establishing a family. We use latent class analysis, and identify seven different trajectories that capture the different life-courses experienced from age 15 to age 30 by individuals in born in 1986: Three trajectory types include post-secondary education. Three trajectory types include the establishment of a family, in one case after post-secondary education. One trajectory type only include employment, and one trajectory type includes neither employment, education, nor the establishment of a family, signalling social vulnerability. The trajectories identified here correspond well with trajectories identified in earlier qualitative studies.
The different trajectories are closely related to different geographical context. As expected, individuals from metropolitan area follow post-secondary education trajectories. Trajectories encompassing the establishment of a family more frequent for individuals from non-metropolitan areas. In addition, the trajectories followed influence where individuals live at age 30. Thus, there is more trajectory-based segregation at age 30 then at age 15. Another finding is that individuals from non-metropolitan areas tend to follow more gender-polarized trajectories. In metropolitan areas there is instead more social polarization: on the one hand trajectories involving post-secondary education, on the other an overrepresentation of the vulnerability trajectory. These geographical patterns to some extent overlap with country background. Individuals with a Swedish background are over-represented in gender-polarized trajectories. Individuals with a non-European background are over-represented in socially-polarized trajectories.
Theoretically, our study give support to the idea that places are structured on the basis of life-course trajectories. Local context influences how individuals are linked into different trajectories and, at the same time, the spatial sorting of trajectories will shape local contexts.


the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, RJ), grant registration number M18-0214:1

the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare (FORTE), grant number 2016-07105




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Exploring life-course trajectories in local spatial contexts across Sweden

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304 Kulturgeografiska institutionen | Department of Human Geography