Many children in cities like Chicago are failing or drop out of school altogether, and many adolescents and young adults are unemployed, do not see college as a viable option, engage in crime, or especially in recent decades, end up in prison. The Great Recession has added another challenge to the work prospects of young adults. The proposed project directly addresses these multiple challenges by studying pathways and turning points in the school-to-work life course of a unique longitudinal sample of over 1,000 Chicago children—a birth cohort recently followed up to 17 years of age and three later cohorts of children (ages 9-15) also followed for 17 years. The central goal will be to identify factors that promote or undermine successful transitions to school and work in two developmental phases—early childhood to adolescence and adolescence to young adulthood. In addressing this goal, the proposed analyses will focus on the interplay of three domains that prior research has identified as potentially important but that have not been simultaneously examined over time in one representative study— neighborhood context, residential mobility, and official criminal justice sanctions. The project will also examine sources of disparity in children’s school and work outcomes by race, ethnicity, social class, and immigrant status. Finally, the project will examine how large-scale forces such as the violence epidemic of the 1980s-90s and the Great Recession are manifested in children’s lives.
Robert J. Sampson
Harvard University, Department of Sociology