Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 159 pages) : illustrations (chiefly color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Tse-Chuan Yang

Committee Members

Katherine Trent, Kate Strully


cognitive ability, health, human capital, life course, vocational training, Motherhood, Mothers, Educational attainment

Subject Categories

Economics | Sociology


The life sequence and human capital accumulation of women have changed in the US. This dissertation intends to propose three interrelated studies that investigate the possible trajectories of human capital accumulation after women’s transition to motherhood, the determinants of these trajectories, and the implications for women and their children’s wellbeing. Driven by the life course perspective, the cumulative advantage and disadvantage theory, and Bourdieu’s cultural framework, this dissertation uses mothers’ vocational training experiences to identify distinct trajectories over time in the first study. This dissertation then investigates how mothers’ cumulative training experiences affect children’s well-being in the second study. Finally, the third empirical study assesses whether the latent trajectories influence women’s health in later life through socioeconomic status. This dissertation project utilizes the longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort (NLSY79) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth Children and Young Adults (NLSYCYA). I use latent profile analysis and multi-nominal regression with multiple imputations to explore the latent trajectories and their determinants. Furthermore, to fully exploit the longitudinal nature of data, I employ individual-specific fixed-effects models to assess the impacts of mother’s cumulative vocational training on children’s physical health, mental health, and cognition. Regarding the long-term effect of latent trajectories on women’s health in mid-to-late life, I conduct mediation analysis to examine whether women’s socioeconomic status mediates the relationship between latent trajectories and health in later life. The results of this dissertation may offer insights into how women’s human capital continues to develop after the transition to motherhood and shed light on how human capital erodes or perpetuates inequalities within and between generations.