Marriage has traditionally been viewed as the bedrock institution of society. But recent evidence suggests that marriage patterns have been transformed. People are marrying less, and those who do are  marrying later, separating more, and often marrying after cohabiting and having children. What are the consequences of these changes for people’s experience of these relationships and for other outcomes, such as relationship quality, life satisfaction and views about marriage? This project provides important information that enables greater understanding of changing family patterns and provides critical data for policy-makers concerned with the social welfare of individuals and the changing role of the family in Australia today.


We employ a life course perspective that emphasises the timing, sequencing and linkages between lie events showing how differing pathways into and out of marriage impact upon how it is experienced

There are four aims:

  • To document clearly recent trends in marriage patterns in Australia
  • To expand our knowledge of the meaning of marriage
  • To investigate how the experience of marriage varies depending on pathways into and our of marriage
  • To investigate how these processes vary by gender, class and ethnicity

Project team

  • Professor Janeen Baxter (UQ)
  • Dr Belinda Hewitt (UQ)

Project details

Duration: January 2009–January 2013

Partners: Australian Research Council

Funding: ARC Discovery Project

Contact: Professor Janeen Baxter ( )