The life course cube: A tool for studying lives

TitleThe life course cube: A tool for studying lives
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsBernardi, L, Huinink, J, Settersten, RA
JournalTheoretical and Methodological Frontiers in Life Course Research
Date Publishedsep
KeywordsBehavioral processes, life course, Life domains, Modeling, Multilevel, theory, Time interdependencies

This paper proposes a conceptualization of the life course as a set of behavioral processes characterized by interdependencies that cross time, life domains, and levels of analysis. We first discuss the need for a systematized approach to life course theory that integrates parallel and partially redundant concepts developed in a variety of disciplines. We then introduce the ‘life course cube,’ which graphically defines and illustrates time-domain-level interdependencies and their multiple interactions that are central to understanding life courses. Finally, in an appendix, we offer a formal account of these interactions in a language that can be readily adopted across disciplines. Our aim is to provide a consistent and parsimonious foundation to further develop life course theories and methods and integrate life course scholarship across disciplines.