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Young adults' family and housing life-stage transitions during post-communist transition in the South Caucasus

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This paper reports evidence from surveys in 2007 which gathered life-history information since age 16 from samples totalling 1215 31-37-year-olds in the capital cities and regional centres of the three South Caucasus countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Following this quantitative survey in which all questions were closed, there were 20 in-depth follow-up interviews with between four and eight respondents per country. The evidence shows that there had been just one dominant and by implication normative family formation sequence, which was to marry, to become a parent (which usually followed marriage very quickly), and then to remain married. It is argued that the dominant family formation sequence was being held in place partly by the older generation's control of housing, and, indeed, the young adults' long-term chances of obtaining their own places. However, while in one sense a constraint, prolonged co-residence with the older generation was also a rational choice of young adults who needed family assistance in child-rearing, and in contexts where the viability of households depended on maintaining multiple income streams. Thus, having survived and, in some ways, having been consolidated during communism, traditional family patterns were proving resilient in the South Caucasus in the post-communist age.
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Keywords: gender; housing; rural youth; status passages; transition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK 2: Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK 3: Caucasus Research Resource Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan 4: University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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