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Negotiating the Life Course
School of Demography
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
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Family Formation

    Professor Peter McDonald
    Dr Ann Evans

The period of young adulthood, from age 18 to 30 years, has been described by one demograpihc commentator as 'demographically dense' (Rindfuss 1991). It is in these years that young people move away from their families of origin and move towards forming families of their own.

The increased tendency for young people to delay these life course transitions means that the demographically dense age-range is being extended beyond age 30.

NLC research in this area focusses on the issues of change and dispersion in the pattern and timing of individual lifecourse transitions. We focus on five key lifecourse events, leaving home, cohabitation, marriage, fertility, and relationship breakdown and compare the experience of four birth cohorts, those born in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. We hypothesise that increased delay and dispersion of the timing of life course events is associated with the perception that young people must invest in human capital formation to a much greater degree than was the case in the past.