Examining life course trajectories of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in England – exploring convergence and divergence among a heterogeneous population of older people

Dylan Kneale, Robert French


Because of limitations in collecting sexuality data, there are very few studies that quantitatively explore the life courses of lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB) individuals. Likewise it is rare that normative patterns of life course trajectories are assessed in terms of their applicability to LGB individuals. We review the current literature on LGB life course trajectories and discuss potential reasons for gaps in the literature. We explore approaches for defining LGB status. We use data from a cohort of people aged 50 and over (English Longitudinal Study of Ageing) to explore the tempo and occurrences of transitions to adulthood and to older age, and establish some of the differences based on sexual orientation. We examine the connecting health behaviours and life course turning points that may explain some of the differences described above. We show that while the first quartile of transitions to adulthood are experienced fairly uniformly by sexual orientation, differences open up thereafter. LGB people’s life course trajectories are marked by different patterns of care, with LGB people less likely to provide care in the form of parenthood, but potentially more likely to provide care earlier to close friends or relatives. Analyses of connecting events suggest that LGB life course trajectories may be marred by higher levels of volatility, including higher risk financial hardship. Caveats to these results are outlined in full in the paper.


LGB, Life course, Ageing, Adulthood

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14301/llcs.v9i2.425

Copyright (c) 2018 Dylan Kneale, Robert French

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