MPIDR Working Paper

Anticipatory analysis and its alternatives in life-course research. Part 1: Education and first childbearing

Hoem, J. M., Kreyenfeld, M. R.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2006-006, 24 pages (March 2006).
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research


Procedures that seek to explain current behavior by future outcomes (anticipatory analysis) constitute a widespread but problematic approach in life-course analysis because they disturb the role of time and the temporal order of events. Nevertheless the practice is often used, not least because it easily produces useful summary measures like the median age at first childbearing and the per cent permanently childless in various educational groups, defined by ultimate attainment. We use an empirical example to demonstrate the issues involved and to propose an alternative "non-anticipatory" research strategy, which, however, does not equally easily provide summary measures. (Keywords: anticipatory analysis, conditioning on the future, fertility by educational attainment)