The life course cube: A tool for studying lives

  • Bernardi L
  • Huinink J
  • Settersten R
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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 different disciplines. We then introduce the ‘life course cube,’ which graphically illustrates and defines the time-domain-level interdependencies and their multiple interactions that are central to understanding life courses. Finally, in an appendix, we offer a formal framework to account for 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 theories and methods of life course research and integrate life course scholarship across disciplines.




Bernardi, L., Huinink, J., & Settersten, R. A. (2018). The life course cube: A tool for studying lives. Advances in Life Course Research.

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