My research applies life course theory and concepts to transitions, trajectories, and health, and how pathways are modified in diverse contexts. Inspired by the social structure and personality and life course perspectives in social psychology, my scholarly work focuses on many subjects of interest to demographers. These topics include the transition from school to work, socio-economic attainment processes, the impacts of work experience on health and psychological well-being, and the transmission of achievement orientations in the family.
I have been instrumental in developing the life course perspective in sociology in several ways in addition to my research contributions. With my former students, I edited the first and second volumes of the Handbook of the Life Course. I founded the Life Course Center at the University of Minnesota, served as its Director from 1986-2006, and led an interdisciplinary NRSA training grant from 1996-2006. I have served on the Executive Committee of the interdisciplinary Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies since its inception.