Research on Finnish Society (11:2018)

Working-age life-courses in Finland: A comparison of the cohorts born 1945-51 and 1961-67

Kathrin Komp-Leukkunen
University of Helsinki

Life-courses are of central interest in the social sciences, describing how our lives progress from the cradle to the grave. This article studies working-age life-courses in Finland, considering how workforce participation, educational participation, childbearing patterns, and health trajectories develop during the ages 15 to 64. Moreover, it investigates cohort and gender differences in these life-courses. Multichannel sequence analyses and cluster analyses are carried out with life-history data from the Finnish NoWork dataset. Findings show that most life-courses combine workforce participation with raising children during working age, with patterns of non-employment or working only being less common. Gender differences decreased across cohorts, mainly due to increasing female labour force participation, and the number of childless individuals also increased. These findings raise concerns about a possible upcoming shortage in informal care provided to older people. In theoretical terms, the findings highlight that life-courses reflect the social-democratic welfare regime and that they become increasingly heterogeneous.

Keywords: cohorts, life-course, gender, Finland, work-life balance

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