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Life Course - New Directions

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Much of the growth of the life course perspective is likely to continue to be through its application to a variety of research areas such as caregiving, stress processes, health, and successful aging. In addition, there are several new directions that are likely to further our understanding of life course processes. For example, despite attention to the development of lives in context, we still know relatively little about how lives unfold in specific neighborhoods, work organizations, or schools. Emerging methods for multilevel analysis offer significant promise for increasing our ability to examine lives in different structural contexts. Another important new direction is likely to be the use of cross-cultural studies for addressing variability in how individuals age. Much of the theoretical development and empirical research on the life course has taken place in the United States and Western Europe and we know relatively little about how life course patterns differ in non-Western and industrializing counties. Cross-cultural comparisons of life course transitions, trajectories, and the entire organization of the life course will be critical for improving our understanding of the various paths and processes through which people age.

ELIZA PAVALKO

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