Research Programme

Family dynamics and inequality

Ann BerringtonJuliet Stone

Project summary

This work is studying family dynamics and inequality in three ways:

Firstly, the team are using panel data from Understanding Society to examine the relationships between family dynamics and social inequality in the UK.

A second strand of the project uses Labour Force Survey data to examine the increasing inequalities faced by young adults as they make their transitions to adulthood in the context of austerity.

Finally, US scholars have argued that the increasing diversity in family dynamics, parenting structure and behaviour is fuelling the intergenerational transmission of poverty: In the US lower educated women are more at risk of entering a partnership at earlier ages, of experiencing non-marital childbearing,  partnership dissolution and mulitpartnered fertility compared to higher educated women. Using a long time series of retrospective partnership and fertility histories, we investigate whether a similar divergence has taken place in Britain. This work is being carried out in collaboration with Eva Beaujouan and Maria Winkler-Dworak from the Vienna Institute for Demography.

Project activities

Date Activity Description
19 January 2017 Seminar presented as part of the CED seminar series in Barcelona.  Ann Berrington presents the paper "Understanding the educational polarisation of family experiences in the UK."
29 November 2016 Paper presented at the "Workshop on Family Formation and Change" held at the British Academy in London. Juliet Stone presents the paper "Family building in the UK: Insights from combining retrospective and panel data" at the event.
22 - 24 September 2016 The European Consortium for Sociological Research (ECSR) conference on Stratification and Population Processes in European Societies, Oxford Ann Berrington presents the findings in a paper titled “Education and Diverging Family Trajectories in Britain: New Insights From Microsimulation”
31 August - 3 September 2016 European Population Conference, Mainz Ann Berrington presented the paper "Austerity, familialism, and conceptualisations as to the age at which adulthood is reached".

Eva Beaujouan presented the paper "Education and diverging family trajectories in Britain: new insights from microsimulation". 
15 April 2016 Family Change and Social Inequality Workshop, Southampton A workshop co-organised by CPC and the University of Bath; supported by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, and the ESRC. Ann Berrington presented some preliminary findings relating to class differences in transitions to adulthood. 


Berrington, A., Perelli-Harris, B. and Trevena, P. (2015) Commitment and the changing sequence of cohabitation, childbearing, and marriage: Insights from qualitative research in the UK. Demographic Research, 33, (12), 327-362.

Berrington, A. and Stone, J. (2015) Cohabitation trends and patterns in the UK. ESRC Centre for Population Change Report, UK. 

Berrington, A. and Stone, J. (2017) Understanding third and fourth births in Britain: What role do increased immigration and multiple partnerships play? CPC Working Paper 83, ESRC Centre for Population Change, UK.



The Strange case of the missing baby. The Economist, 30 April 2016.

Happy families? Male acceptance of equality in the home could define the future. The Conversation, 12 May 2016.

Your Money and Your Life - Twenty-somethings. BBC Radio 4 (Ann Berrington features), 30 July and 3 August 2016.

Your Money and Your Life - Thirty-somethings. BBC Radio 4 (Ann Berrington features), 6 and 10 August 2016.