OBITUARY-John A. Clausen, prof. emeritus of Sociology, died Feb. 15 at age 81.

by Kathleen Scalise


University of California at Berkeley Professor Emeritus John A. Clausen, who spent much of his career directing one of the world's longest running studies of human lives, died of cancer Feb. 15. He was 81.

An obituary prepared by Professor Clausen is attached. Below is additional information that may be useful.

As director of the Institute of Human Development at UC Berkeley and a professor of sociology, Clausen in 1960 took over three longitudinal research studies begun in the 1920s and '30s. The studies followed the lives of almost 300 men and women in Berkeley and Oakland. Clausen's work culminated in the 1993 book, "American Lives; Looking Back at the Children of the Great Depression."

The work provided important new evidence that competence in adolescence predicts many favorable outcomes in lifečoutcomes that in the case of this generation of Americans, were different for men and women.

It also confirmed the critical importance of the parents' marriage in children's lives. Parental conflict was as bad as divorce in the lives of these children of the Depression, the study found. The impact was still visible in their late maturity.

The crucial importance of parenting was also made evident. Ratings of maternal attention when the children were in junior high school, for instance, showed a relationship to stability and satisfaction in the sixth decade of life.

But the most significant revelation of this six-decade research was the extent to which a man's occupational and financial success and a woman's marital success could be predicted from their adolescent competence-their dependability, self-confidence and intellectual investment.

The research did not support the notion that most people go through standard stages of life, or particular events such as a mid-life crisis.

"The life course is individually patterned," Clausen said at the time of publication of his book. "People make transitions at different times and in a variety of sequences."

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