## Visiting address

Eilert Sundts hus

4th floor (map)

Moltke Moesvei 31

0851
OSLO

Norway

Lecturer: Professor Melinda Mills,

Department of Sociology,

University of Groningen, Groningen,

The Netherlands

Main disciplines: Sociology, Demography, Statistics

Dates: 2 - 6 August 2010

Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)

Limitation: 30 participants

**
Content and objectives of course
**The life course approach is a means to study patterns and trajectories of individuals. The aim of this course is to provide an overview of theoretical and methodological approaches to cross-national life course research, with a focus on applied event history analysis.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

- name, define, compare and give concrete form to the central theories, concepts and methodological approaches within life course research;
- understand the theoretical and methodological challenges in cross-national comparative research;
- have an overview of selected empirical applications of cross-national life course research and inequality;
- engage in applied survival and event history analysis using the computer program R.

The first days of the course will introduce students to the basic concepts and central topics in life course research. We will then move from theory to empirical applications, focussing on cross-nationally comparative life course research and related studies of inequality. The remainder of the course will introduce students to the central methodological approach in life course research, survival and event history analysis. Here the focus will be on practical computer-based instructions of survival and event history analysis using the computer programme R.

For the first day of the course, students should prepare a *brief* introduction of their own (planned or actual) individual research project. The introduction should be very *brief* and no longer than 3 minutes (i.e., it is a verbal introduction, no power point presentations, etc.).

Students also have the option or writing a 6,000 to 10,000 word research paper within eight weeks after the course to receive a course certificate and earn credits. The topic of the paper should be decided in consultation with the instructor. Students may focus on a content-related essay or undertake a related detailed analysis using their own data. A more detailed specification of this essay and the criteria for grading will be provided at the beginning of the course. Students who fulfil this requirement with a passing grade will receive 10 ECTS credits.

**Essential readings for preparation of the course**

Students should obtain and read these books/articles in advance of the course.

- Mills, Melinda (2010)
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*. London: Sage. - Mayer, Karl Ulrich (2009) New Directions in Life Course Research,
*Annual Review of Sociology*, 35(1): 413-433. - Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, J.H.P. and C. Wolf (2003). ‘Demographic and Socio-economic variables across nations: Synthesis and recommendations,’ pp. 389-406, J.H.P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik and C. Wolf (Eds.),
*Advances in Cross-National Comparison*. New York: Kluwer/Plenum.

**LECTURE OUTLINE** **(and required readings) **

This course consists of approximately 4 lecture-hours each day, divided into a morning and afternoon session, each consisting of two 45 minute lectures.

**Monday 2 August: Introduction, life course theory and empirical applications
**Introduction: Brief introduction and discussion of (planned or actual) individual research projects and designs (each student should prepare a short 3 minute verbal introduction of their research topic/interests)

Lecture 1: **Life course research
**The goal of this lecture is to introduce students to the main theories, concepts and challenges in contemporary life course research.

Readings:

- Mayer, K.U. (2009) New Directions in Life Course Research,
*Annual Review of Sociology*, 35(1): 413-433. (20 pages) - Heinz, W.R. and K. Krüger (2001) Life Course: Innovations and Challenges for Social Research,
*Current Sociology*, 49(2): 29-45. (16 pages) - Giele, J.Z. and G.H. Elder Jr. (1998) Life Course Research: Development of a Field, pp. 5-27, In: J.Z. Giele and G.H. Elder Jr. (Eds.)
*Methods of Life Course Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches*. Thousand Oaks: Sage. (22 pages)

Lecture 2: **Cross-national applications and inequalities in the life course
**During this lecture, students will learn about cross-national comparative life course and inequality research and actively discuss applications and challenges.

Readings:

- Buchholz, S., Hofäcker, D., Mills, M., Blossfeld, H.-P., Kurz, K. and H. Hofmeister (2009) Life Courses in the Globalization Process: The Development of Social Inequalities in Modern Societies. A Summary of Findings From the GLOBALIFE Project,
*European Sociological Review*, 25(1): 53-72. (19 pages) - Callens, M. and Croux, C. (2009) Poverty Dynamics in Europe: A multilevel discrete-time hazard analysis, International Sociology, 24(3): 368-396. (28 pages)
- Elo, Irma T. (2009) Social Class Differentials in Health and Mortality: Patterns and Explanations in Comparative Perspective,
*Annual Review of Sociology*, 35(1): 553-572 (39 pages). - Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, J.H.P. and C. Wolf (2003). ‘Demographic and Socio-economic variables across nations: Synthesis and recommendations,’ pp. 389-406, J.H.P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik and C. Wolf (Eds.),
*Advances in Cross-National Comparison*. New York: Kluwer/Plenum. (17 pages) - Mills, M., G. van de Bunt and J. de Bruijn (2006) “Comparative Research: Persistent Problems and Promising Solutions,”
*International Sociology*, 21(5): 619-631. (12 pages) - Mills, M. (2009) Globalization and Inequality, European Sociological Review, 25(1): 1-8. (8 pages)

**Tuesday 3 August: Introduction to Event History Modelling of the Life Course and R
**

Lecture 3: **Introduction to event history modelling of the life course and data**

The goal of this lecture is to introduce students to the fundamental concepts and terminology in event history analysis, understand why these methods are useful and which problems they can solve, understand censored and truncated data, survivor and hazard function and their relationship and have a general overview of the different types of models and classes. In the second part of this lecture, students will gain insight into different types of data structures including the single and multi-episode files, person-period files with and without lagged variables and episode-splitting.

Readings:

- Mills, M. (2010) The fundamentals of survival and event history analysis, Chapter 1,
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*, London: Sage. (23 pages) - Mills, M. (2010) Data and data reconstruction, Chapter 4,
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*, London: Sage. (23 pages)

Lecture 4:** Introduction to R and your first session**

The goal of this lecture is introduce students to different computer programmes for modelling the life course and provide a basic introduction to R. Students will then learn how to load the related packages in R for these types of analyses, open and examine data, run basic descriptives and summary statistics and graphical explorations of the data.

Readings:

- Mills, M. (2010) Using R and other computer programmes for survival and event history analysis, Chapter 2,
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*, London: Sage. (14 pages) - Mills, M. (2010) Your first session: Using the survival package and exploring data via descriptive statistics and graphs, Chapter 3,
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*, London: Sage. (17 pages)

__Wednesday 4 August: Nonparametric Methods and the Cox Model__

Lecture 5:** Nonparametric methods**

The goal of this lecture is to allow students to: understand the basic tenants and calculations of the Kaplan-Meier (KM) estimator, conduct and interpret KM analyses in R, produce a univariate KM plot, plot two KM curves to compare survival between groups, determine whether differences are statistically significant between groups and understand why it may be useful to stratify the analysis.

Readings:

- Kaplan, E.L. and Meier P. (1958) Nonparametric estimation from incomplete observations,
*Journal of the American Statistical Association*, 53(282): 457-481. (24 pages) - Mills, M. (2010) Nonparametric Methods: Estimating and Comparing Survival Curves Using the Kaplan-Meier Estimator, Chapter 5,
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*, London: Sage. (22 pages)

Lecture 6: **The Cox-proportional hazards regression model**

The goal of this lecture is to allow students to be able to: recognize the general and time-varying form of the Cox proportional hazards model and understand why it is useful, and understand the meaning of the proportional hazards assumption. Students should also be able to estimate and interpret a Cox regression model with fixed and time-varying covariates, interpret the hazard ratio, test the significance of the model, produce and interpret survival curves, integrate time-varying covariates by producing a person-period file, reduce the problem of causal ordering by introducing lagged time-varying covariates and examine time-dependence.

Readings:

**Blossfeld, H.-P. and M. Mills (2001) A Causal Approach to Interrelated Family Events: A Cross-National Comparison of Cohabitation, Nonmarital Conception and Marriage,’Canadian Studies in Population, 28(2): 409-437. (28 pages) **

**Mills, M. (2010) The Cox Proportional Hazards Regression Model, Chapter 6, Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis, London: Sage. (28 pages)**

**Thursday 5 August: Parametric Models, Models Building and Diagnostics**

Lecture 7:**Parametric models**

The aim of this lecture is to first introduce students to the main characteristics of parametric models and why you should use them and the difference between accelerated failure time (AFT) versus proportional hazards (PH) models. Students will then learn how to estimate and interpret a selection of AFT and PH model specifications (e.g., exponential, Weibull) and then reshape the data to estimate and interpret a piecewise constant exponential model.

Readings:

- Mills, M. (2010) Parametric Models, Chapter 7,
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*, London: Sage. (37 pages) - [Additional suggested readings and examples will be provided during the course]

Lecture 8:** Model building and diagnostics**

The aim of this lecture is allow students to understand the cumulative research process of building an appropriate model, understand the importance of a purposeful selection of covariates and assess the overall goodness of fit of models in order to choose an appropriate model. Students will then learn how residuals can be used to evaluate a model to: test overall model adequacy, check for a violation of the proportional hazards assumption, deal with non-proportional hazards, check for influential observations and detect non-linearity.

Readings:

- Mills, M. (2010) Model building and diagnostics, Chapter 7,
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*, London: Sage. (23 pages) - [Additional suggested readings and examples will be provided during the course]

__Friday 6 August: Multilevel Models, Multiple Events and Entire Histories__

Lecture 9: **Multilevel and frailty event history models for cross-national comparative research
**The aim of this lecture is to introduce students to the problem of correlated data, understand the analysis of recurrent events and frailty and recognize different forms of frailty. Students should also have a basic ability to estimate and interpret Cox and parametric frailty (multilevel) models.

Readings:

- Steele, F.A. (2008) Multilevel Models for Longitudinal Data,
*Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A*, 171(1): 5-19. (14 pages) - Mills, M. and Begall, K. (2010) Preferences for the sex-composition of children in Europe: A multilevel examination of its effect on progression to a third child,
*Population Studies*, March (30 pages) - Mills, M. (2010) Correlated and discrete-time survival data: frailty, recurrent events and discrete-time models, Chapter 9,
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*, London: Sage. (23 pages)

Lecture 10:** Modelling multiple events and entire histories: competing risk, multistate models and sequence analysis**

The goal in this lecture is to first introduce students to the analysis of competing risks and the central techniques used to model them (latent, cumulative incidence curve (CIC)). Students will then briefly learn about how to prepare data, estimate, compare and interpret competing risks models. Another goal is that students have a basic understanding of multistate models and their applications and could prepare data, estimate and interpret these models. Students will then be given an introduction to the basics of sequence analysis of entire trajectories and shown how to prepare, describe and visualize sequence data, estimate and interpret the similarities and distances between sequences using the optimal matching approach, engage in a cluster analysis to produce prominent typologies of sequence trajectories, and estimate and interpret basic event sequence analysis results.

Readings:

- Aasave, A., Billari, F. and Piccarreta, R. (2007) Strings of adulthood: Analysis work-family trajectories using sequence analysis,
*European Journal of Population*, 19: 147-169. (22 pages) - Abbott, A. (1995) Sequence analysis: New methods for old ideas,
*Annual Review of Sociology*, 21: 93-113. (20 pages) - Hachen, D.S. (1988) The competing risks model. A method for analyzing processes with multiple types of events,
*Sociological Methods and Research*, 17(1): 21-54. (33 pages) - Mills, M. (2010) Multiple events and entire histories: competing risk, multistate models and sequence analysis, Chapter 10,
*Introducing Survival and Event History Analysis*, London: Sage. (37 pages) - Steele, F.A., Kallis, C., Goldstein, H. And Joshi, H. (2005) The relationship between childbearing and transitions from marriage and cohabitation in Britain,
*Demography*, 42: 647-673. (26 pages)

Question and answer session: Discussion of individual research projects and designs.

**The lecturer
**Melinda Mills (PhD Demography 2000) is Professor of the Sociology of the Life Course at the Department of Sociology, University of Groningen, Netherlands. Since 2003, she has been the Editor of

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