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  • Project contributors: Berrington A, Pattaro S,

    This Project is linked to the following Strand/s:

    Fertility and Family

    Overview

    Objectives
    The project aimed to investigate the determinants of fertility postponement, to identify the impact of postponement on subsequent childbearing and to understand the factors facilitating fertility recuperation (catching up) at older age. Given the decline in the probability that conception will occur among women in their thirties and the upper age at which women are physically able to have children, many of those who are childless at age 30 do not manage to 'catch up' their childbearing. Indeed England and Wales has one of the highest levels of childlessness in Europe with about one in five women reaching age 45 with no children.

    Methods
    The project involved a data preparation phase and an analysis phase. In order to examine childbearing trends in the context of the cohort members' other life course domains, the retrospective fertility, partnership, education and employment histories needed to be cleaned, seamed and integrated. Working in conjunction with members of Centre for Longitudinal Studies Institute of Education, the task was completed for both cohorts in men and women. The analysis was divided into 3 parts: the 1958 cohort; the 1970 cohort; and a cross-cohort comparison. Work on the 1958 cohort, looked at how parental background and experiences in childhood and early adulthood influence the early development, and modifications of family building intentions. Study of the 1970 cohort, now reaching the end of their reproductive years, examined the role of men's and women's relative resources in facilitating recuperation between age 30 and 38. And the cross-cohort comparison looked at the impact of education, employment and partnership experiences on the recuperation of fertility at older ages.

    Findings
    By taking a life course approach the research shows how fertility intentions and behaviour develop from adolescence, through early adulthood and into mid-life. The 1958 and 1970 cohort datasets provided a unique opportunity to understand how fertility intentions in early adulthood are changed by later life experiences, particularly partnership formation and dissolution, economic uncertainty (especially for men), and commitment to full time work (especially for women).

    Parental and childhood experiences are particularly good at predicting who becomes a parent in their teens or early twenties, but are less useful for predicting who becomes a parent among those still childless in their early thirties. Among this group, more educated men and women intend to have children and are more likely to have a child.

    Fertility intentions predict fertility outcomes – and the effect size is second only to partnership status. However, positive intentions expressed at age 30 remained unfulfilled for around four in ten men and women suggesting that there remain significant barriers to recuperation, most obviously the lack of a co-residential partner. A significant proportion (ranging between one quarter and one third) of the childless men and women in their early thirties were uncertain about their future childbearing. Uncertainty among men is similar across educational groups but this is not the case for women where it is those with degree level qualifications who appear most uncertain. This may reflect the greater opportunity costs of childbearing for such women. Uncertainty is particularly high for women who were high earners, but whose partners were in the low earners. Recuperation was strongest among couples where both are high earners.

    Publications & Activities

    Understanding fertility intentions: their modification and achievement over the life course
    PAIRFAM International Conference on Fertility over the Life Course (2012). (Bremen)
    Authors: Berrington A,

    Invited paper: Understanding the postponement of parenthood to later ages
    NCRM Research Methods Festival (2012). (Oxford)
    Authors: Berrington A,

    The role of relative earnings and gender equity in facilitating fertility recuperation among older couples in Britain
    The value and use of cohort studies for social investigation and policy making (2012). (Centre for Longitudinal Studies)
    Authors: Berrington A, Pattaro S,

    Understanding childbearing intentions and outcomes over the life course
    Invited Seminar (2012). (Institute for Education)
    Authors: Berrington A,

    The impact of women's relative earnings and gender equity on the recuperation of fertility among older couples in Britain
    European Population Conference (2012). (Stockholm)
    Authors: Berrington A, Pattaro S,

    The effect of household resources and gender equality on the transition to parenthood among couples in Britain
    Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies International Conference 2011 (2011). (Germany)
    Authors: Berrington A, Pattaro S,

    The Impact of Women's Career Interruptions on the Transition to Second Childbirth - Decisions in Italy and Sweden
    IX Italian Population Conference (2011). (Università Politecnica delle Marche)
    Authors: Pattaro S,

    The recuperation of fertility at older ages in Britain: Evidence from the 1958 British birth cohort
    Annual Conference of the Population Association of America (2011). (Washington D.C)
    Authors: Berrington A, Pattaro S,

    The Impact of Women's Career Interruptions on the Transition to Second Childbirth - Decisions in Italy and Sweden
    Annual Conference of the Population Association of America (2011). (Washington D.C)
    Authors: Pattaro S,

    Factors Affecting Fertility Recuperation in Britain
    Dondena Seminars - Regular Series (2010). (The "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (Dondena), University of Boconni, Milan)
    Authors: Berrington A,

    The recuperation of fertility at older ages in Britain: Evidence from the 1958 British birth cohort
    British Society for Population Studies (BSPS) Annual Conference (2010). (University of Exeter)
    Authors: Berrington A, Pattaro S,

    The Impact of Women's Career Interruptions on the Transition to Second Childbirth - Decisions in Italy and Sweden
    Joint European Consortium for Sociological Research (ECSR)/European Science Foundation (ESF)/Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences 2 (QMSS2)/TransEurope Research Network Conference on Analysing Education, Family, Work and Welfare in Modern Soci (2010). (Bamberg, Germany)
    Authors: Pattaro S,

    The recuperation of fertility at older ages in Britain: Evidence from the 1958 British birth cohort
    European Population Conference 2010 (2010). (University of Vienna)
    Authors: Berrington A, Pattaro S,

    Fertility postponement and recuperation demographic trends in childbearing in Europe
    Fertility and Reproduction Seminar Series (2009). (Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford)
    Authors: Berrington A,

    Media

    Women with degrees have first child at 35
    Article in The Sunday Times "Women with degrees have first child at 35"

    Family planning: starting a family is not a precisely planned event
    Article in 'Britain in 2012', ESRC's annual magazine: "Family planning: starting a family is not a precisely planned event".

    Fertility gap revealed
    Newspaper article in The Independent: "Fertility gap revealed" (Martin Halfpenny).

    Women having fewer children and later
    Newspaper article in The Telegraph: "Women having fewer children and later" (Tom Whitehead).

    Baby gap Britain: Mothers in UK have far fewer children than they would like
    Internet article in The Mail Online: "Baby gap Britain: Mothers in UK have far fewer children than they would like".

    Fewer children born than expected
    Internet article in This is Hampshire.net: "Fewer children born than expected"

    Statistics show women have fewer children than they planned
    Internet article in Ask a Mum website "Statistics show women have fewer children than they planned" (Sarah Sheere)

    The Information: Numbers of young people who still live at home
    Article in FT magazine: "The Information: Numbers of young people who still live at home".