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Institute of Education LifE-Study: Pathways From Late Childhood to Adulthood

Pathways Fom Late Childhood to Adulthood. Context and Development in Adolescence as Predictors of Productive Life-Courses

There is still comparatively little well-founded knowledge of the structure and the determinants of different paths of development from childhood and adolescence into adulthood. Knowing the effects of personal and social resources as well as of certain types of development in adolescence on the development in early adulthood, is of high interest to both science and society. This is the starting point for the present study.

Continuing along the same lines as the longitudinal study ”Development in Adolescence” (1979 to 1983), the study focuses on the psychosocial development of 1500 persons twenty years later. Overall, the age span from 12 to 35 is covered. Emphasis is put on the predictive power of differential achievement at school, of differential family experiences, and of differential peer-involvement in adolescence on coping with developmental tasks in adulthood. The quality of coping is indicated by characteristics of the social and occupational careers and the psychosocial health in adulthood. These indicators are integrated in a concept of "life-success” in adulthood.

The data derived from the study ”Development in Adolescence” not only include extensive information about the characteristics of the participant‘s family, school environment and peer network, but also detailed indicators of action-theory based personal characteristics of coping. Therefore, it represents an interdisciplinary as well as thematically broad approach to modelling developmental processes during the transition from adolescence into adulthood. Pedagogical, sociological and psychological implications are expected.

The research project was conceived as a postal survey by means of a standardized questionnaire. Data collection took place in 2002. Preceding the main study, two pretests were carried out, a cognitive one in Switzerland and a standardized one in Germany. Due to a complex procedure, including the offering of incentives and telephone contact a response rate of 82% was achieved in the main study.

The research project is a joint venture of the Universities of Zurich, Constance and Potsdam. Funds are provided by the main Science Foundations in Switzerland and Germany.

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