Traditionally, the study of the life course has been divided into research on different age groups, different life phases, and different life domains such as the family cycle, fertility history, occupational careers and employment, the dynamics of income and consumption, migration, and normative patterns of aging. The emerging field of theory and research on the impact of the state on the structuring of the life course highlights overarching and integrative mechanisms for institutionalizing the life course. Therefore, the field constitutes a new analytical perspective rather than a specialized area of research. This review attempts to make the theoretical perspective explicit and to collect the various contributions from very scattered research reports. The major emphasis is macrosociological and theoretical. Examples are drawn from research on childhood, education, military service and wars, public employment, retirement, and old age. Particular attention is paid to the historical aspects of increasing state regulation. The review is based on US and Western European literature.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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