Similarity in Transition to Adulthood of Friends and Schoolmates

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

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. We use data from 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 innovations in sequence analysis, we estimate similarity in life course trajectories among friends, school-mates and siblings. In the second part of the paper we combine sequence analysis to causal inference to estimate the 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 41. New Perspectives on Partnership Formation in the United States