Ethnic differences in aspirations and realities in the transition to adulthood

Publication type

Conference Paper


Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2017, 11-13 July 2017, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Publication date

July 12, 2017


Transitions to adulthood have become increasingly postponed and de-standardized. However, the literature does not generally consider whether these changes are occurring for all ethnic groups, and how ethnicity intersects with gender and education. In recent research, Finney highlighted the differential role of student mobility according to ethnicity, and the greater levels of inter-generational co-residence among young Pakistani and Bangladeshi families in the UK; while, for the Netherlands, Kleinepier analysed leaving and returning to the parental home, and demonstrated the importance of taking a life course approach, showing that much of the differences in residential mobility are explained by differences in education, labour market entry, and family formation experiences. Both these authors explain ethnic differences in terms of culturally specific values concerning family formation, and on the role assigned to the individual versus the role of wider kin and social groups. This paper provides new insight on these issues by examining ethnic differences in reported aspirations for the timing of leaving home and family formation, and preferences for marriage, cohabitation and childbearing among ethnic minority and white youth aged 16-21 interviewed in Understanding Society. The paper compares these aspirations to the behaviour of slightly older cohorts (now aged 18-39) during their transition to adulthood.





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