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December 2021

Event history data and making a history out of cross-sectional data - How to answer the question 'Why cohorts differ?'

Journal/Book: Qual Quant. 1999; 33: Spuiboulevard 50, PO Box 17, 3300 AA Dordrecht, Netherlands. Kluwer Academic Publ. 261-276.

Abstract: At the turn of 20th century social scientists have built up a large stock of cross-sectional data-sets to study social change. However, scholars more and more collect event history data containing the exact timing of events. Comparing the (dis)advantages event history data are to be preferred. However, for research on value change the event history approach is inapplicable, since it is not possible to ask the timing of a value change retrospectively. I will illustrate that value change (i.e. Cohort differences) can be studied adequately with cross-sectional data, if information about the historical context is added. For this purpose I test Inglehart's value change thesis. Interestingly, there are also topics in which cross-sectional data-sets are unnecessarily being used. Using research on secularization as an example, I show that the event-history approach can be used to answer the question whether the decreasing number of religious people concerns a cohort-effect. However, whatever data-set is being used, to study cohort differences, one should always give a theoretical answer to the key-question: what exactly makes cohorts different?

Note: Article De Graaf ND, Univ Nijmegen, Dept Sociol, POB 9104, NL-6500 HE Nijmegen, NETHERLANDS

Keyword(s): cohort identification; dynamic analysis; postmaterialism; religion; CONTEXT; BELIEF

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