Skip to content

Conference Paper BHPS-2007 Conference: the 2007 British Household Panel Survey Research Conference, 5 July -7 July 2007, Colchester, UK

Role configurations and pathways: a latent structure approach to studying formal learning in the life course -abstract-


Publication date



To help understand the consequences of life course decisions and events for an individual’s learning over time, we explore how various social role configurations interact with participation in formal adult learning using 2- stage latent class models. We conceptualize the life course as interdependent trajectories of social roles over time. We investigate how events in one trajectory influence the shape of other trajectories and with what consequences for the likelihood of participating in adult education and training. We use four waves of the BHPS - 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2004 - to map out various life course social trajectories e.g. learning, work, marriage, parenthood for three adjacent cohorts of original BHPS sample members across a 14-year period of their life span. Our first cohort was born between 1966 and 19971, were aged 20-25 in 1991 and 33-38 in 2004. Our second, was born between 1947 and 1952, was aged 39-44 in 1991 and 52-57 in 2004. Our third, was born between 1928 and 1933, was aged 58-63 in 1991 and 71-76 in 2004. The collapsing of adjacent age groups into one cohort sample was designed to give us viable sample sizes with which to work. Our research design has allowed us to contrast typologies of participation within each of our cohort samples at four age stages and across a 14-year time span - early to mid adulthood, mid adulthood to late adulthood, and late adulthood to old age - and explore the ways in which a selection of life course transitions and events cohere in significant ways with one another, and with participation in adult education and training, in particular. The paper demonstrates how the BHPS can be used to theorize and model the impact of context on adult life and adult learning in particular.


Education and Life Course Analysis



Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest