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Young Adult Occupational Achievement: Early Expectations versus Behavioral Reality


Rindfuss, Ronald R.; Cooksey, Elizabeth C.; & Sutterlin, Rebecca L. (1999). Young Adult Occupational Achievement: Early Expectations versus Behavioral Reality. Work and Occupations, 26(2), 220-263.


We examine the stability of occupational expectations during the first 7 years after high school and their correspondence with occupations held at age 30, using data from the Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972. Our results show substantial instability in occupational expectations during the late teen years and the early 20s. No matter when expectations are measured, even as late as age 25, fewer than half of the young men and women actually achieve their occupational expectations. When they do not achieve their expectations, the work role occupied at age 30 differs substantially by gender. Men tend to move to higher occupations or become managers; women tend to move down or leave the labor force. Socioeconomic status of family of orientation, high school achievement, and events in the family of procreation all have important effects on the process.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Work and Occupations


Rindfuss, Ronald R.
Cooksey, Elizabeth C.
Sutterlin, Rebecca L.