Life Course Theory_Application of Human Development Theories


  • Elder Jr, G. H. (1994). Time, human agency, and social change: Perspectives on the life course.Social psychology quarterly, 4-15.
  • Elder, G. H., & Rockwell, R. C. (1979). The life-course and human development: An ecological perspective.International Journal of Behavioral Development, 2(1), 1-21. (link)



  • Outline and exemplify the 4 key principles of Life-Course Theory
  • Explain how Life Course theory developed



Depending on when you were born, you have different attitudes about certain things.  The idea is that events in your life influence your outcomes for the life-course.


4 Key Principles of Life-Course Theory


  1. principle of historical time: that the life course of individuals is embedded in and shaped by the historical times and events they experience over their lifetime.
  2. principle, that of timing in lives: that the developmental impact of a life transition or event is contingent on when it occurs in a person’s life.
  3. principle of linked lives: that lives are lived interdependently and that social and historical influences are expressed through this network of shared relationships
  4. principle of human agencystates that individuals construct their own life course through the choices and actions they take within the constraints of history and social circumstances”





  1. Summarize the Children of the Depression/ Berkley & Oakland studies. What did researchers infer from this data?
  2. Describe and give an example of each of the 4 principles of Life Course Theory.
  • Historical Time
  • Timing in lives
  • Linked lives
  • Humans agency
  1. After all of your readings and work, how do you feel about the Life Course theory?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of researching with this model?
  2. Most of the theorists you will learn about this semester are deceased. Glen Elder, however, is still alive and working. If you could ask him one question, what would it be?




**Please read all of the required readings and answer all of the questions above thoroughly.


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