“Are we even studying families anymore?” How longitudinal studies can help us to understand contemporary families: What are the emerging opportunities and the challenges we face?

“Are we even studying families anymore?” How longitudinal studies can help us to understand contemporary families: What are the emerging opportunities and the challenges we face?
Friday 27 July, 0930 – 1100

Panelists

Liz Allen
Australian National University

Tim Reddel
Department of Social Services

Diana Warren
Australian Institute of Family Studies

Mark Wooden
Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, University of Melbourne

Abstract
Families of the 21st Century come in all shapes and sizes: traditional families, stepfamilies, single mothers, single fathers, grandparents raising grandchildren, multi-generational households, the list is endless. But pretty much everyone agrees that the era of the nuclear family, with a dad who went to work and the mum who stayed at home, has declined to the point of no return. Divorce, remarriage, parenting out-of-wedlock and a host of other variables have turned nuclear families into the exception rather than the norm.

But what is the “modern” family and to what extent families are currently effectively studied in Australia? What are the relative merits of different data sources (longitudinal studies, cross-sectional studies, administrative data, Census, etc) in helping us to understand families (formation, structure, functioning, dissolution, etc)? How well have different data sources have kept pace with the changing nature of families?
The panel discussion will focus on understanding what Australia’s longitudinal studies (including those with involvement by DSS, AIFS and others) have told us about families so far, and could tell us in future, as well as challenge what else we might need as a nation to ensure we have fit-for-purpose data sources to understand families and be able to inform policy development.