Life-course and transition to adulthood in China: the case study of Beijing in a comparative perspective between two cohorts born in the 1950s and 1980s

Sandra Constantin, University of Geneva

In this communication, I will explore the transition to adulthood of young Beijing residents born in the 1980s. My research focuses on two specific birth cohorts: the post-1980s, and the post-1950s. The first cohort is born during the implementation of the open-up policy, and the second is the generation of their parents, born right after the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. In this paper, my aim is twofold: first, in a comparative approach between and within cohort, I will try to understand how the reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping at the beginning of the 1980s influenced the life-course and the stages of the transition to adulthood of the young Chinese born in the 1980s. Then, I will compare these pathways with those of people born in the 1950s. Although studies on this topic are widespread in Western countries, there are still few focusing on Asian countries and China. My analyses will be based on retrospective longitudinal data encompassing family, academic, professional and migration biographies. I interviewed, between September 2012 and July 2013, a sample of 916 people living in Beijing at the time of the survey (616 respondents born between 1980 and 1985, as well as 300 respondents born between 1950 and 1959). To collect these quantitative data I developed a computer administrated life-course matrix. In this communication, I will rely on the sequence analysis methodology to analyze these retrospective longitudinal data, and to study the variations between and within cohorts in the transition to adulthood of these two distinct generations. I will first show these various sequences. Then, I will proceed to clusters analyzes using the optimal matching methodology. My aim here will be to highlight the various patterns of transition to adulthood for each group and subgroup inside the two birth cohorts (post-1980s and post-1950s).

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Presented in Poster Session 2