Other life transitions

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The most common pathway from school to adult life was to leave school,  to find a full-time job, to leave the parental home, to form a relationship and finally to have children (Chart 8).

Chart 8 - Life transitions

Though the pathway was the same for men and women, the timing of the different transitions was quite different (Table 8).  Men left school and started working full time earlier than women.  In contrast, women left the parental home, formed a relationship and had children earlier than men.  Throughout the five cycles, in comparison with women, a higher proportion of men worked full time and still lived with their parents.

Table 8 - Life transitions by gender

Life transitions of men and women occurred later than before.  Results from a previous study based on census data (Clark, 2007),  in 1971, showed that 75% of 22 years old youth had left school, half of them were married and one quarter had children. Youth have delayed quite substantially their transitions to adulthood over the last 35 years (Table 8).

Several factors could explain that delay.  One of the most important is the growing labour market demands for education.  The high school diploma is now the minimal qualification and postsecondary education is necessary to access an increasing number of jobs.

The economic benefits of education were quite clear.  Earnings, as demonstrated in the previous section, were higher for university graduates than for high school graduates.  Not only do young adults participate in postsecondary education at a higher rate but previous studies showed that students attend multiple institutions and programs (Shaienks and Gluszynski, 2008) before finally entering the labour market.  They often acquire more than one postsecondary diploma.  In order to sustain this longer period in school, young adults rely on their parents to help them with tuition fees and other costs related to postsecondary education. Staying home is one way to keep the cost down. They wait until they finish school before living as a couple (marriage or common-law) and having children.