Even Now Women Focus on Family, Men on Work: An Analysis of Employment, Marital, and Reproductive Life-Course Typologies in Relation to Change in Health-Related Quality of Life
To a large extent health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is a product of life-course experiences. Therefore, we examined employment, marital, and reproductive life-course typologies as predictors of HRQoL in women and men. To determine life course clusters, sequence and cluster analysis were performed on the annual (waves 1990–2019) employment, marital, and children in household states of the German Socio-Economic Panel data (N = 8,998; age = 53.57, 52.52% female); separately for men and women. Using hierarchical linear regression analyses, and Tukey HSD post-hoc tests, associations between clusters and change in life satisfaction, subjective mental, and physical health were examined. Five life-course clusters were identified in the female and six in the male sample. Life courses differed greatly across gender regarding employment aspects (e.g., men generally work full-time vs. women underwent frequent transitions). The family aspects appeared similar – e.g., ‘starting a family’ or ‘marital separation’ clusters – but still differed in the particulars. Life course typologies were related to distinct patterns of HRQoL. For instance, both for men and women the ‘separated’ clusters, as well as the male ‘entering non-employment’ cluster were associated with a steeper decline in HRQoL. However, change in subjective mental health showed few associations. Distinct types of life courses and differential associations with sociodemographic background and HRQoL emerged for women and men. The analyses reveal a burden on individuals who experienced marital separation, and non-employment and thus present important target groups for health prevention, e.g., for physical health problems.