Research Programme


Fertility dynamics in the context of economic recession

Ann Berrington, Juliet Stone

Project Summary

Many commentators assumed that fertility rates would fall in the context of the economic downturn following 2008. However, in the UK period fertility rates continued to increase (at least up until 2012) as they had done since 2000 and currently the UK has one of the highest levels of fertility within Europe. Although this persistent higher level of fertility is sometimes associated with recent high levels of net international migration to the UK, rates of childbearing among UK born women also increased during this period.

Objectives

This work examines the individual, family and macro-level factors driving childbearing trends in the UK.

We address four main areas of research:

  1. Understanding Educational gradients in the timing and level of childbearing
    How does women’s education influence whether they have children or not, how old they are when they have their first child and how many children they go on to have? How has this changed over time for mothers born between 1940 and 1969?
  2. Economic uncertainty and progression to first and second birth
    How are objective and subjective measures of economic uncertainty associated with progression to first and second birth? How do these effects differ by gender and level of education, and how they may be moderated by the broader neighbourhood context?
  3. Fertility patterns of recent UK immigrants
    What are the relationships between the migration event and the timing of childbearing among recent arrivals to the UK?
  4. Income, welfare, housing and progression to higher order births
    What have been the trends in progression to higher order births in the UK? How are income, benefit receipt and housing situation associated with progression to higher order births? Istheassociaton different for unpartnered and partnered women?

Methods

This research makes use of three sources of life history data: the CPC GHS time series datasetUnderstanding Society and the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study. Methods include demographic standardization, event history analyses and multilevel modelling of contextual data.

 

Project activities

Date Activity Description
12-14 September 2016 2016 BSPS Conference held at the University of Winchester. Juliet Stone and Ann Berrington present the paper "Income welfare and the transition to third birth in the UK" at this event.
31 March – 2 April 2016 Population Association of America Annual Meeting Paper presented: “Understanding Childlessness from a Prospective Life Course Perspective: Unrealized Intentions and Subsequent Interpretations of Childlessness”
19-21 October 2015 Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies Annual Meeting Paper presented: “Does perceived income adequacy matter for family formation?”
7-9 September 2015 British Society for Population Studies Annual Meeting Paper presented: “Squeezing childbearing into the life course? Childbearing following postponement to later ages in Britain”
21 July 2015 Understanding Society Conference Paper presented: “Economic Precariousness and Childbearing in the UK”
15 June 2015 CPC Fertility and Family strand meeting Meeting of fertility researchers from Scotland and Southampton at Ladywell House, Edinburgh
30 April – 2 May 2015 Population Association of America Annual Meeting Paper presented: “What are the Consequences of Fertility Postponement for Women’s Completed Family Size?”

Prize-winning poster presented: “Financial stress, economic uncertainty and transitions to first and second birth in the UK”
15-17 April 2015 Annual Meeting of the British Sociological Association Paper presented: “Does perceived income adequacy matter for family formation?”

Paper presented: “Did I Forget to Have Children?: Understanding the Postponement of Childbearing and Childlessness from a Life Course Perspective”
25-28 June 2014 European Population Conference Paper presented: "Educational differences in tempo and quantum of childbearing in Britain:  A study of cohorts born 1940-1969"
9-10 October 2014 Workshop: Family Dynamics, Fertility Choices, and Family Policy (Oslo, Norway)  Economic uncertainty and transitions to first and second birth
8 - 10 September 2014 British Society for Population Studies Annual Meeting Paper presented: “Economic insecurity and the transition to parenthood in the UK”

Paper presented: Educational Differences in Entry into Motherhood and Subsequent Childbearing in Britain: A Study of Cohorts Born 1940 ‐ 1964  

 

Publications

Berrington, A. (2015) Childlessness in the UK. In, Childlessness in Europe: Patterns, Causes and Contexts. Berlin, DE, Springer, 1-33. (In Press).

Berrington, A., Stone, J. and Beaujouan, E. (2015) Educational differences in timing and quantum of childbearing in Britain: a study of cohorts born 1940-1969Demographic Research, 33, (26), 733-764.

Robards, J. and Berrington, A. (2016) The fertility of recent migrants to England and Wales. Demographic Research, 34 (36), 1037-1052.

Stone, J., Berrington, A. and Beaujouan, E. (2015) “What Are the Consequences of Fertility Postponement for Women’s Completed Family Size?”. Population Association of America Annual Meeting, San Diego.  

 

Media

Legitimate: The proportion of births outside marriage has at last stopped rising. The Economist, 22 January 2015

Degrees of sacrifice: clever women have fewer children. Sunday Times, 31 May 2015

I want my daughter to know that she can never 'have it all’. The Telegraph, 31 May 2015

Will more free childcare fuel baby boom? BBC News online, 25 June 2015.

Childlessness: What’s Old, What’s New, What’s Innovative Population and Policy Bites, 10 February 2016

You can browse all CPC media outputs and population-related articles from CPC members on our Scoop.it! page