Published Papers - Abstract 297

Johnstone M & Lee C. Lifestyle Preference Theory: No match for young Australian women. Journal of Sociology, 2016; 52(2): 249-265

Women’s work and family choices are affected by social pressures and external constraints. Understanding young women’s aspirations for future work and family is important for understanding their future needs and for developing supportive work–family practices and policies. Despite criticism, Lifestyle Preference Theory has been argued to explain women’s life choices, and historically has been used to inform Australian policy. We address three issues: whether Lifestyle Preference Groups are consistent with young Australian women’s stated preferences; whether aspirations are consistent over time; and whether women’s later lives are consistent with their earlier stated preferences. Using four waves of data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH), young women’s work and family aspirations were investigated cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Most aspired to both paid work and family; most changed their preferences over time; and the fit between preferences in 2000 and lifestyle in 2009 was modest. Lifestyle Preference Theory was not an adequate fit to the data.