Interdependencies Over the LIfe Course: Women's Fertility, Marital, and Educational Experiences

by Lee A. Lillard, Constantijn (Stan) Panis, Dawn Upchurch


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price
Add to Cart Paperback72 pages Free

The development of life course research over the past several decades has informed scholars of the complexity of individual lives. A large literature exists which has creatively attempted to incorporate life course theory of interrelated transitions and trajectories. However, it has been very difficult to statistically account for the jointness across them. Therefore, life course research is at a critical juncture of development. This paper examines women's life course over five processes (education, nonmarital and marital fertility, marriage formation and marriage dissolution) using econometric techniques that incorporate the jointness across trajectories, and that include multiple transitions and the relative timing of events. The authors find significant heterogeneity within processes and significant correlations across processes, indicating that they are indeed jointly determined. Ignoring their endogeneity leads to biased estimates and even, in some cases, incorrect conclusions. The authors then discuss implications for life course research.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Draft series. The unrestricted draft was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003 that represented preliminary or prepublication versions of other more formal RAND products for distribution to appropriate external audiences. The draft could be considered similar to an academic discussion paper. Although unrestricted drafts had been approved for circulation, they were not usually formally edited or peer reviewed.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.