Life histories and health: Baby Boomers in Australia and England

Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2010 to 2012.

Research aims

This project examined how life experiences of the baby boom cohort (born 1946-1950) influence health, productivity, well-being, and pension and service use at ages 60 to 64 years in 2010-11.

The aims were to determine how:

  • Health inequalities and health actions in late middle-age are influenced by accumulated variations in family, occupational, and economic exposures from childhood onwards.
  • Socially structured life-course experiences, health outcomes, and health behaviours vary between men and women.
  • Australian and English life outcomes reflect different societal and policy developments since WWII.
  • Migration impacts on life-course outcomes by comparing native-born Australians, native-born English, English migrants to Australia, and other migrants to Australia.

Major data resources

A new life history component linked to the NSW 45 and Up Study; and a parallel life history component in the English Longitudinal Survey on Ageing (ELSA).


The project aimed to identify and enhance understanding of:

  • The influences of socio-economic disadvantage earlier in the life course and during critical periods of the life course on accumulating inequalities in health, work opportunities, and well-being as both women and men grow older.
  • The interplay between the social and economic determinants of health, eg between family and parenting, and employment and workplaces, that potentially can be improved through individual action and through government strategies.
  • How improving health for ageing Australians can increase productivity and limit needs for health services during the unprecedented period of ageing that lies ahead.
  • What is distinctly Australian about the post-war experience through comparisons between Australia and England, in light of Australian immigration programs and socio-economic developments.

Research team

  • Prof Hal Kendig, Chief Investigator, Ageing, Work and Health Research Unit, University of Sydney
  • Prof Julie Byles, Chief Investigator, Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, University of Newcastle
  • Prof James Nazroo, Partner Investigator, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
  • Dr Kate O’Loughlin, Collaborator, Ageing, Work and Health Research Unit, University of Sydney   

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