The changing dynamics of households and families, particularly in the last 30 years or so, have important ramifications for understanding changing patterns of inequality and planning effective social policy responses. The Life Course Centre will be a force for change by deepening our understanding of disadvantage and providing a launch pad for new approaches in policy and practice that will make a genuine difference in people’s lives.

Janeen Baxter is a sociologist with research interests in families, gender inequality, paid and unpaid work, and wellbeing, as well as cross-national, life-course and longitudinal research. An innovator in life-course theory, she initiated the Negotiating The Life Course project, which was one of the first studies in Australia to collect comprehensive longitudinal data on relationship and employment histories. This paved the way for the development and funding of later large-scale panel studies by the Australian Government, including the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey.

Her most recent research work focused on the effect life-course events and life-course pathways have on various individual and family outcomes. These included time spent in paid and unpaid work, gender role attitudes, relationship satisfaction, life satisfaction and earnings. Prior to establishing the Life Course Centre, Janeen was an ARC Professorial Fellow and has held several ARC Linkage and Discovery projects, including projects investigating cohabitation, divorce, mothers’ workforce engagement and paid parental leave, and educational outcomes for disadvantaged young people.

Janeen was a member of the HILDA Survey Expert Reference Group from 2000 to 2012, and has used the HILDA survey extensively in her research. She was a member of the ARCCollege of Experts from 2012–14, and Chair in 2014. She is an elected Fellow of The Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. Her current research at the Life Course Centre focuses on the associations between family dynamics and relationship pathways and movement into and out of disadvantage. She is examining gender differences in these patterns and is also investigating developing research about children’s outcomes in relation to parental relationship pathways and transitions.


Key Information


Director | Chief Investigator


BA Hons (ANU)

MA Sociology (ANU)

PhD Sociology (UQ)

University Affiliation:

University of Queensland

Primary Organization:

The University of Queensland