Research Programme

Fertility in the context of economic recession and international migration: an analysis of Britain, Italy and Spain

Elspeth Graham, John MacInnes, Lynn Jamieson, Zhiqiang Feng, Francesca FioriAlbert Sabater & Adele Lebano.

Project summary

This multi-scale, mixed-methods project investigates recent changes in fertility in three European countries, each with different histories of international migration and with economies that have been variously affected by the economic crisis of 2007/8. It builds on work on England and Wales by extending it to include Scotland and two countries in Europe for comparison. We expect both the composition of the population and context to influence fertility change because the economic downturn is likely to have impacted differentially on the study countries and the different population groups in them i.e. people are likely to be affected differently according to their age, level of education, gender, and employment status (Sobotka et al. 2011), as well as country of birth/ nationality. The analyses use spatially disaggregated data drawn from national censuses, birth registrations and sample surveys, along with qualitative interview data collected by the team in each of the countries. 

Key research questions:

1. At the macro-scale, how do within-country geographical variations in fertility, and by population group, differ before and after the economic downturn?

2. Is there individual-level evidence of partnership/fertility postponement, and/or changes in family size, including childlessness?

3. How do young adults perceive and experience ‘recession’ as modifying their futures, and particularly living arrangements, partnering, parenting and family life?

Project activities

Date Activity Description
31 August - 3 September 2017 2017 APSA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Adele Lebano presents a paper titled "Why the ‘Fertility Campaign’ failed: fertility choices in Italy after the crisis".
3 November 2016 Seminar presentation as part of the CRFR informal seminar series. Adele Lebano presented the seminar paper "Where have all the young people gone? Generations family and work in Italy."
12-14 September 2016 2016 BSPS Conference held at the University of Winchester. Elspeth Graham and Albert Sabater present the paper "Low educational attainment and UK fertility change in times of austerity" at the event.
31 August - 3 September 2016 EAPS European Population Conference held in Mainz, Germany. Elspeth Graham, Albert Sabater and Francesca Fiori presented a paper on "Fertility Change in the Context of Economic Recession in Italy and Spain: Population Composition and Sub-National Geographies" at the conference.
23-24 June 2016 The paper "Emigration and fertility decline in Spain since the economic recession: A population-level analysis" was presented by Albert Sabater and Elspeth Graham at the symposium.
7-9 September 2015 British Society for Population Studies Conference paper. Presented paper on "Socio-economic development and emerging sub-national geographies of fertility: the case of Spain."
15 June 2015 CPC Fertility and Family strand meeting. Meeting of fertility researchers from Scotland and Southampton at Ladywell House, Edinburgh.
20-21 April 2015 Set up collaboration for accessing Spanish data sets. Hosted a visit from 3 representatives of the National Research Council of Spain and the Statistical Institute of Andalusia.
April 2015 Formalised collaboration with the Italian statistical office (ISTAT) in Rome. Following visit to ISTAT in December 2014.



Fiori, F., Rinesi, F. and Graham, E. (2017) Choosing to remain childless? A comparative study of fertility intentions among women and men in Italy and BritainEuropean Journal of Population, (Online First View).

Graham, E., Sabater, A. and Fiori, F. (2016) Fertility Change in the Context of Economic Recession in Italy and Spain.  ESRC Centre for Population Change Briefing Paper 36, ESRC Centre for Population Change, UK.

Please check back soon for more publications from this project. You can also browse all CPC publications.


Media activities

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