Envisioning Adult Lives: Adolescent Aspirations & Expectations of Work and Family
Presented by Ronda Copher
Adolescence is a crucial period within the life course; the experiences youth have, and the plans they make for their futures resonate throughout their lives. In particular, adolescent aspirations and expectations toward their adult lives have implications for attainment and pathways through institutions. Further, the process of life course formation is gendered. My dissertation research looks at stability and change in adolescent aspirations and expectations of work, family and educational attainments for women and men. I argue that adolescent's plans comprise cognitive pathways, that is how adolescents see themselves and their lives, which has implications for the constellation of roles incurred as adults. Research typically investigates these domains one-dimensionally and at single points in time, in contrast, using a variation on growth mixture models (latent class models adapted for long processes) I estimate 5 different cognitive pathways in how young men and women think about their futures in multi-dimensional ways. Specifically, I model adolescent aspirations and expectations during the four years of high school using data from the Youth Development Study (YDS). Within the cognitive pathways, I find evidence for both stability and change, with uncertainty increasing for young men and women across the three domains.