Unitary Social Science for Causal Understanding: Experiences and Prospects of Life Course Research

Martin Diewald

Abstract


Longitudinal data are superior to cross-sectional data for explaining social processes. Yet, the existing division of labour in social science is a serious handicap for causal understanding of human behaviour. This is demonstrated in this article with the quite unrelated coexistence of sociological research on life histories and psychological research on individual development. Two examples are discussed: the intergenerational reproduction of social inequalities and the openness versus closedness of labour markets. Though there is an increasing awareness of problems of selectivity and unobserved
heterogeneity in conventional social research, statistical modelling of these problems cannot replace the need for transdiciplinary data collection and research.

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Canadian Studies in Population | E-ISSN 1927-629X

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