The collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent rapid shifts in economic, political, and social institutional arrangements — labeled here as a “regime change” — offer a unique opportunity to explore how patterns of social inequality vary across broader institutional contexts and over time. How the stratification order between different social groups has changed in the aftermath of the regime change in Russia is a central question I raised in this thesis. I draw on a life-course perspective and address several rather untouched aspects of social inequalities in Soviet and post-Soviet societies. First, I focus on the initial school-to-work transition stage and approach social inequality from a gender perspective. Second, I explore the “work-back-to-school” transition process by focusing on inequality in participation in adult education due to (initial) educational and occupational attainment. In other words, I study inequality of adult-educational opportunity. Third, I devote to the “school-back-to-work” transition in the later life course stages. I particularly address inequality in returns to adult education due to initial educational endowments. Empirically, I employ powerful longitudinal data from the Education and Employment Survey for Russia (EES) linked to the Russian Gender and Generation Survey (GGS), which cover life trajectories in a time-frame between 1965 and 2005. Based on my empirical case studies, I conclude that the regime change was accompanied by a widening of pre-existing social distances and an effective amplification of the Russian society’s stratification order.

Keywords: life course, social inequality, regime change, school-to-work transition, adult education, gender inequality, gender segregation, Russia