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Age, Period, And Cohort Effects

Norval D. Glenn

Subject Sociology » Demography and Population Studies

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Age, period, and cohort effects must be considered as a package, because the three kinds of effects are so closely interrelated that it is impossible to deal empirically with one without also dealing with the others. Age effects are the consequences of growing older, either of human individuals or of other entities. Period effects are the consequences of influences that vary through time. And cohort effects are the consequences of being born (or coming into existence by some other means) at different times. Assessing age effects is central to social gerontology, developmental psychology, and the sociological specialty of aging and the life course, in which fields hypotheses about the consequences of aging abound. For instance, it is believed that participation in conventional crime diminishes due to declines in energy and risk-taking propensities associated with aging out of adolescence and young adulthood, and it is believed that voting and other forms of political participation typically increase as, and because, young adults take on greater work and family responsibilities. Estimating age effects is not easy, however, because these effects may be confounded with period or cohort effects in any kind of data used for the task. For instance, in a simple comparison of persons who are at different ages at one point in time (cross-sectional data), age effects may be confounded with ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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