Methodological approaches

Life course analysis

An integrated approach to life courses and their socioeconomic contexts will be the basic methodological reference for the project’s two thematic strands. This means tracking a person’s life course by recording all the information needed to describe and understand their trajectory. Starting from the individual as the unit of observation does not mean neglecting family groups, social groups, networks or institutions. On the contrary, the idea is to identify, throughout the life course, the series of conjunctions that shape individual trajectories.

This principle has been widely applied in recent research. The themes covered extend beyond demographic characteristics alone to include , for example, the health behaviours, HIV-status or administrative situation of migrants. It has been progressively refined by collecting new data and perfecting the analysis methods, particularly with the development of multi-level models.

International comparative methods.

This focus on combined analysis of the context in which life courses are played out and of the characteristics specific to individuals is the overarching theme of the iPOPs project. As regards contextual factors, an international perspective will be central. This approach will also shed light more specifically on the role of public policy in shaping individuals’ life courses. The institutional context in which individuals follow their life course is shaped largely by public policy and the social security system. The iPOPs project will examine the effects of family policy, equal opportunities policy, pension reform, health, dependence and disability policies on individual behaviours and social transformation.

The use of longitudinal data will make it possible to identify the directions of causality by rigorously combining individual and contextual data and by using international comparisons (as harmonized as possible), both in establishing the data and in exploiting it.