Dr Stephen Michael Mctaggart

BA, MA (Hons) (Auckland), PhD


  • Professional Teaching Fellow, Research Fellow

I began my academic journey as a mature student and have worked as a social researcher for the last 18 years. For twelve months during this period I taught Sociology at The National University of Samoa. One of eight children, I was born to Scottish parents who migrated to Aotearoa in 1949, and grew up under the shadow of Maungarei /Mt Wellington in Tamaki Makaurau/ Auckland. I have a background in both Māori and Pacific people’s research, and am currently finishing my doctorate in Sociology at the University of Auckland. My thesis investigates the changes in Marriage and Cohabitation trends in New Zealand over a 25-year period. I also work as a social researcher based at the University of Auckland, and many of my publications are centred on the assessment of Wellbeing of Family and Whānau of the New Zealand people. I have taught sociology and research methods at the National University of Samoa, Auckland University of Technology, and most recently, The University of Auckland.  

Read more about sociology at the University.

Research | Current

  • Phd Title:The reproduction of inequality: Patterns of mate selection in New Zealand from 1981 to 2006.


Phd Abstract
Since the 1980s, more couples in Western countries have been cohabiting, either before marriage or in short- or long-term partnerships. During this period, marriage rates have declined, couples are marrying later in life, divorce has become easier, remarriage rates have increased, educational attainment has increased, and more women have entered paid work. While cohabitation now looks more like marriage, previous research suggests that cohabitation and marriage continue to exhibit different socioeconomic, educational, and gendered profiles.
Drawing on New Zealand census data and other national and international research, this thesis examines the statistical differences between heterosexual partnerships within marriage and cohabitation from 1981–2006. The major variables include age, education, employment status, occupation, income, and parenthood. Insights from both macro-structural marriage market theory and micro-social social exchange theory are used to examine the changing trends in marriage and cohabitation.
The thesis argues that cohabitation has become more heterogeneous over the decades, showing more discrepancies between the characteristics of partners than in the past. Cohabitation was once a practice of youth but increasing proportions of the middle aged and older population now live together outside marriage. While homogamy remains prevalent in New Zealand, many women continue to marry older men with higher levels of occupation, education and income. However, more partnerships (especially in cohabitation) now consist of older women and younger men or females with higher status or greater resources than their partner. I argue that these changes have been influenced by increases in women’s educational achievement and employment. Nevertheless, gendered differences remain within both partnership types, reflecting heteronormative cultural values and the impact of motherhood on women’s employment and earnings.


Postgraduate supervision

Professor Maureen Baker

Dr Vivienne Elizabeth

Areas of expertise

Marriage and Cohabitation and Population Wellbeing Demography

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Miller, J., & McTaggart, S. (2019). THE IMPACT OF RAPID URBANISATION ON THE GOVERNANCE OF SMALL AND RURAL PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN THE NORTHERN WAIKATO. Paper presented at Council meeting, Waikato District Council rooms Ngaruawhahia.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/46621
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Tatebe
  • O'Connor P, & McTaggart, S. (2017). The collapse of the broad curriculum: The collapse of democracy. Waikato Journal of Education, 22 (1), 61-72. 10.15663/wje.v22i1.550
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter O'Connor
  • McTaggart, S., & O'Connor P (2016). Squiggla Beta Test Two Report. Creative Research Initiative, Faculty of Education and Social Work.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter O'Connor
  • Kiro, C., Hynds, A., Eaton, J., Irving, E., Wilson, A., Bendikson, L., ... Rangi, M. (2016). The Starpath Project. Starpath phase 2. Final summative evaluation report. Auckland, New Zealand: Starpath Project, The University of Auckland.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Aaron Wilson
  • Kiro, C., Hynds, A., Eaton, J., Rangi, M., McTaggart, S., Cockle, V., & Irving, E. (2015). An update on the Starpath Project. Paper presented at Compass Spring Seminar Series, University of Auckland, Fale Pasifika Complex. 28 September - 28 September 2015. Related URL.
  • McTagggart, S. (2015). Census of Ngati Whatua o Orakei employment and occupation patterns (A brief analysis).
  • McTaggart, S. (2014). Demographic trends for Ngāti Whātua households in the Auckland region 1991-2006.
  • McTaggart, S. M. (2014). Male/female partnerships in cohabitation and marriage: Changing trends in New Zealand The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 6, Room 622
New Zealand