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  • Project contributors: Berrington A, Kulu H, Fiori F, Keenan K, Mikolai J, Ramos V, Hu K, Lyu S,

    This Project is part of the following research programme/s:

    Connecting Generations

    Fertility and Family


    The high costs of raising children are an important obstacle to the realisation of couples' fertility intentions. We are investigating the role of various forms of (grand)parental support in the formation and realisation of fertility intentions, including informal childcare and financial contributions such as assistance with housing costs. Our research examines how these patterns have changed over time and differ by socio-economic background and migrant status/ethnicity.

    Data from Understanding Society, the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) and Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) are used to investigate whether adult children's fertility decisions are based on the possibility of attaining childcare and other support from their parents, and whether these decisions vary by birth order. The research will also examine how the Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped informal childcare. We assess whether the effects of the pandemic and associated periods of home-working and home-schooling during lockdowns have been short-lived or long term. The research findings will inform policies on early years childcare provision and the support needed by working families.

    Many western countries have seen rising levels of separation and the formation of complex families through re-partnering and childbearing within successive partnerships. Yet, surprisingly little is known about the experience of multi-partner fertility in the UK and its implications for inter-generational relations and social inequalities.

    Our research explores the connections between generations within complex families from the perspective of children (based on MCS and Next Steps) and parents (based on BCS70 and NCDS). We document gender differences in multi-partner fertility, examining the particular situation of fathers given that they are more often non-resident from their biological children following separation. Specifically, we will examine how re-partnering and subsequent childbearing within a new partnership affects the relational and financial involvement of non-resident fathers in their children's lives.

    The findings will be of interest to charities such as Kinship and Government departments, including DWP, in planning how best to support complex families e.g. in terms of welfare provision, and legal issues, for example, in relation to access to (grand)children from dissolved partnerships.

    This research project is jointly led by Professor Ann Berrington and Professor Hill Kulu.