Now we are 21: an overview of the longitudinal Life Chances Study

Social isolation Well-being Social issues Population Families Youth Australia

The Brotherhood of St Laurence’s longitudinal Life Chances Study started in Melbourne in 1990. The study has comprised ten stages, the most recent completed in 2012 when the children, who were born in 1990, were 21 years old.

This paper presents an overview of the study by outlining the published findings of each stage. It is designed to enable readers to follow up the diverse topics covered over 21 years, to point to the findings and the policy implications that have emerged and to act as a guide for possible future analysis.

The study was designed as a population study in an inner urban area. It sought to explore the life chances of a group of children who were born at the same time in the same place but into very diverse families. While the study sample is not representative of all Australian children, aspects of the experiences of these families are likely to be shared by many others. The study has continued to follow the families as they moved away from the inner suburbs.

Readers can also turn to the original reports for their rich detail including the parents’ and young people’s own descriptions of their experiences as well as quantitative analysis. The reports of the early stages are available through the Brotherhood of St Laurence and some libraries. The reports of stages 6 onwards are available on the Brotherhood’s website (

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