Continuity and Change in the Family Life Course
Since the end of World War II, family life has become less predictable with increases in separation, divorce, cohabitation, non-residential relationships, singlehood, re-partnering and childlessness or fewer children. The rhythm and timing of the family life course has also changed with trends towards later marriage and childbearing, delayed independent adulthood and the decoupling of childbearing from marriage. The emergence and persistence of more diverse family structures and the restructuring of the family life course at the societal level mean greater individual choice over decisions that ultimately result in more family transitions across the life course. Consequently, pathways through the life course now look very different than those of a generation ago, and a popular discourse has emerged about the breakdown of secure and predictable life pathways.
In this session we propose to have 5 oral papers that examine emergent trends of the family life course and their implications. The issues will be investigated using a longitudinal and life course perspective, which emphasizes the importance of time, place, social context, process and meaning. Each speaker will be allowed 15 minutes with 5 minutes of specific questions followed by a general discussion of 10 minutes. We hope to address broader questions including: Are these changes enduring or temporary? What is driving them? Who do they most affect? Do they reflect a re-ordering of family life or generational change in the life course timing of events? What are the implications for gender equality and wellbeing at different life course stages?