How have women’s employment patterns during young adulthood changed in Chile? A cohort study
The period of young adulthood is a decisive stage for women’s employment pathways. Individual characteristics (such as marriage, parenting and education) and contextual factors (decommodification, defamilialisation and labour-market flexibility, for example) play a significant role in shaping work trajectories during these years. However, due to cultural, social and economic change, employment histories during young adulthood may vary significantly among women of different generations. This study analyses and compares long-term employment patterns during young adulthood (defined as ages 25 to 39) among two cohorts of women born around 1958 (N = 2,244) and 1969 (N = 2,231) in Chile, an under-studied country in life-course research. We analyse four major dimensions of female employment patterns across cohorts – (1) diversity, (2) prevalence, (3) dynamism and (4) socio-demographic characteristics – and propose four corresponding hypotheses. To test these hypotheses, we used data from Chile’s Social Protection Survey – an exceptionally rich longitudinal survey – and employed sequence analysis to construct a typology of labour-force trajectories for each cohort. The results show some elements of continuity between cohorts’ employment patterns, such as their diversity and socio-demographics, as well as important changes in their prevalence and dynamism. In the concluding section, we discuss the contributions of this in-depth single-country study for the field of life-course research, particularly to the cultural and policy implications of the current configuration of women’s working lives.