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Age, Cohorts and the Generation of Generations

Gosta Carlsson and Katarina Karlsson
American Sociological Review
Vol. 35, No. 4 (Aug., 1970), pp. 710-718
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2093946
Page Count: 9
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Age, Cohorts and the Generation of Generations
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Abstract

Social change often takes the form of many small units, like persons or families, changing from "old-style" to "new-style" behavior, creating a behavioral trend. The rate of change is very important for the further effects. If middle-aged and old people are less likely to change, we get differences between birth cohorts at any given time and, for the population as a whole, delayed response to new conditions. Studies of rigidity and age generally support a fixation model of cohort behavior, and so do data on mobility and age. A tentative model of cohort effects is developed on this basis and the corresponding lag function shown; it implies a pattern of smooth oscillations in the behavioral time series with an average "period" of 25 years or more. The result has nothing to do with the distance between generations as customarily understood, i.e., from birth to marriage and child-bearing.

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