The influence of prenatal hormone exposure on life course discontinuity

Cara Booker, University of Essex
Anette E. Fasang, Humboldt Universit├Ąt zu Berlin
Sebastian Schnettler, Universit├Ąt Konstanz

In this paper, we examine if different levels of exposure to androgens in-utero are predictive of the degree of instability and discontinuity in subsequent life course trajectories. In particular, fast vs. slow strategies from life history theory predict differences in the timing and frequency of events in family trajectories, and higher risk-taking behavior in the fast strategy also predicts more instability in educational and occupational trajectories. Therefore, overall we predict higher disorder in the life course of individuals with high exposure to testosterone during pregnancy, but higher order in the life courses of individuals with low exposure to testosterone. We use sequence analysis and new data from the 6th wave of the Innovation Panel (IP6) of the British Understanding Society that enables us to test this hypothesis using the 2D:4D finger length ratio as an indicator of prenatal hormone exposure.

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Presented in Session 16: Biodemography and the life course