Poverty and the Life Cycle in 20th Century Ireland: Changing Experiences of Childhood, Education and the Transition to Adulthood
Gray, Jane (2010) Poverty and the Life Cycle in 20th Century Ireland: Changing Experiences of Childhood, Education and the Transition to Adulthood. Combat Poverty Agency.
This study adds to the evidence base on poverty and the life cycle from a childhood centred perspective through a qualitative analysis of a major new database of life history interviews linked to a panel survey. The analysis focused on three birth cohorts of respondents whose households experienced difficulty making ends meet when they were growing up during the 1930s, 1950s and 1970s. Experiences of class discrimination in education were most pronounced in the middle cohort who ‘started out’ during a period of transformation in the Irish social structure. For all three cohorts, vulnerability to poverty across the life course was linked to different patterns of ‘poor fit’ between the timing of key transitions in early adulthood and changing socio-economic and policy environments. The analysis demonstrates that a life cycle approach to social policy must be sufficiently flexible to respond to rapidly changing socio-economic conditions. Within the context of a long-term pattern of change in the timing and sequencing of early adult life transitions, fluctuations in the wider social and economic environment have varying consequences for people at different life stages. A life-cycle approach should also continue to recognise the substantial ways in which social class differences, especially those experienced in childhood and ‘starting out,’ frame opportunities and constraints at ‘turning points’ throughout the life course.
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