Discussion Paper no. 06-03


There has been a recent concern over polarization of family life among the younger Canadians; that is, differences in family life are accentuated by the differences in their social and economic situations. Using the retrospective data on life course events gathered through the 2001 General Social Survey, we show that there is basis for this concern - the timing of transitions and early life trajectories of Canadian women born from 1966 to 1975 do differ by parental socio-economic status. However, the influence of social inequality on the life course is not a recent phenomenon - results of our analysis show that the timing of transitions have also differed by social status among women born from 1926 to 1945. What is unique to younger cohorts is that, through a process of diffusion, similar influence of social status is also seen in the other life events such as cohabitation. We discuss the implications of these findings for policies.