Special Collection 3 - Article 2 | Pages 15-44

Becoming an Adult in Europe: A Macro(/Micro)-Demographic Perspective

By Francesco Billari

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Date received:12 Sep 2003
Date published:17 Apr 2004
Word count:6262
Keywords:comparative demography, cross-country relationships, earliest-early, Europe, latest-late, micro-macro, transition to adulthood


Extreme cases in demography are important challenges for researchers, and the still important heterogeneity of European societies is a blessing for scholars interested in studying the importance of cultural and institutional factors. In the transition to adulthood the "latest-late" pattern of Southern Europe cohabits with its opposite "earliest-early" pattern of the Nordic countries.
In this paper, I discuss multifaceted approaches to the explanation of why becoming an "adult" in Europe appears so diverse. I use secondary data analyses and present cross-country correlations: welfare state and institutional arrangements, historical and deeply rooted cultural differences, as well as economic and policy factors, and ideational change. Moreover, micro-level determinants play different roles in different societies. Future research on the transition to adulthood in Europe needs to be multilevel, comparative and interdisciplinary, and to consider the potential implication of persistent differences in patterns.

Author's Affiliation

Francesco Billari - Bocconi University, Milan, Italy [Email]

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