Joint Family and Work Trajectories and Multidimensional Wellbeing

Eur J Popul. 2021 Apr 14;37(3):643-696. doi: 10.1007/s10680-021-09583-3. eCollection 2021 Jul.


Informed by the life course perspective, this paper investigates whether and how employment and family trajectories are jointly associated with subjective, relational and financial wellbeing later in life. We draw on data from the Swiss Household Panel which combines biographical retrospective information on work, partnership and childbearing trajectories with 19 annual waves containing a number of wellbeing indicators as well as detailed socio-demographic and social origin information. We use sequence analysis to identify the main family and work trajectories for men and women aged 20-50 years old. We use OLS regression models to assess the association between those trajectories and their interdependency with wellbeing. Results reveal a joint association between work and family trajectories and wellbeing at older age, even net of social origin and pre-trajectory resources. For women, but not for men, the association is also not fully explained by proximate (current family and work status) determinants of wellbeing. Women's stable full-time employment combined with traditional family trajectories yields a subjective wellbeing premium, whereas childlessness and absence of a stable partnership over the life course is associated with lower levels of financial and subjective wellbeing after 50 especially in combination with a trajectory of weak labour market involvement. Relational wellbeing is not associated with employment trajectories, and only weakly linked to family trajectories among men.

Keywords: Family trajectories; Financial wellbeing; Professional trajectories; Relational wellbeing; Sequence analysis; Subjective wellbeing.