Age Norms, Institutional Structures, and the Timing of Markers of Transition to Adulthood

Jeylan T. Mortimer, Sabrina Oesterle, Helga Krüger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


This chapter compares the timing and sequencing of educational completion and first parenthood for samples of U.S. youth and German women. We garner evidence bearing on two hypotheses. The first is that the timing of transition to parenthood is governed by age norms; the second, that this transition is influenced by the incentives posed by distinct school-to-work transition structures. We conclude that strongly institutionalized school-to-work bridges pose greater incentives for the completion of educational programs in Germany and more clearly regulate the timing of parenthood. The more loose connection between school and work in the United States encourages greater variation in the timing of parenthood, and more first births before schooling is complete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-203
Number of pages29
JournalAdvances in Life Course Research
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Youth Development Study is supported by grants (titled “Work Experience and Mental Health: A Panel Study of Youth”) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD44138) and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH42843). The inspiration for this chapter came from work initiated while the first author was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. She is grateful for support provided by the Center, as well as by the Hewlett Foundation and the W.T. Grant Foundation (Grant 95167795). Sabrina Oesterle was supported by a Fellowship from the University of Minnesota Graduate School while working on this project. The Bremen Female Life Course Study was sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and is part of the Bremen Sonderforschungsbereich 186 on Status Passages and Risks in the Life Course.


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