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Educational differences in timing and quantum of childbearing in Britain: a study of cohorts born 1940-1969

Educational differences in timing and quantum of childbearing in Britain: a study of cohorts born 1940-1969
Educational differences in timing and quantum of childbearing in Britain: a study of cohorts born 1940-1969
Background: Increased postponement of fertility, especially among higher-educated women, means it is important to know whether women recuperate births at older ages, but evidence for the UK is lacking. The extent to which the timing and quantum of mothers’ fertility underlie the strong educational gradient in completed family size is also unclear.

Objective: We investigate the relative contributions of childlessness, timing, and quantum to educational differences in completed fertility within cohorts born between 1940 and 1969.

Methods: We analyse retrospective fertility histories from 44,351 women, born 1940-1969, interviewed in the British General Household Survey (1979-2009) and the UK Household Longitudinal Study (2009-2010). After describing educational differences in the timing of first birth and parity distributions, we quantify the relative contributions of childlessness, delayed entry into motherhood, and fertility rates conditional upon age at entry into motherhood, to educational differences in completed family size.

Results: Within each cohort, the educational gradient in completed family size is explained, in demographic accounting terms, almost entirely by educational differences in the proportions remaining childless and the age distribution of mothers at entry into motherhood. Conditional upon age at entry into motherhood, subsequent fertility rates are similar across educational groups and across cohorts.

Conclusions: Unlike for some other European countries, the postponement of motherhood to later ages in Britain has not resulted in a significant increase in childbearing among more-educated women who enter motherhood at later ages. The stability of aggregate measures of completed fertility in Britain is not the result of a straightforward process of postponement followed by recuperation.
educational differentials fertility, cohort fertility, postponement of childbearing, recuperation of births, completed family size, childlessnes
733-764
Berrington, Ann
bd0fc093-310d-4236-8126-ca0c7eb9ddde
Stone, Juliet
e90cfda9-64e9-4619-8a16-911312a0a965
Beaujouan, Eva
78e2a0b3-3489-4735-b436-065bda66cede
Berrington, Ann
bd0fc093-310d-4236-8126-ca0c7eb9ddde
Stone, Juliet
e90cfda9-64e9-4619-8a16-911312a0a965
Beaujouan, Eva
78e2a0b3-3489-4735-b436-065bda66cede

Berrington, Ann, Stone, Juliet and Beaujouan, Eva (2015) Educational differences in timing and quantum of childbearing in Britain: a study of cohorts born 1940-1969. Demographic Research, 33 (26), 733-764. (doi:10.4054/DemRes.2015.33.26).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: Increased postponement of fertility, especially among higher-educated women, means it is important to know whether women recuperate births at older ages, but evidence for the UK is lacking. The extent to which the timing and quantum of mothers’ fertility underlie the strong educational gradient in completed family size is also unclear.

Objective: We investigate the relative contributions of childlessness, timing, and quantum to educational differences in completed fertility within cohorts born between 1940 and 1969.

Methods: We analyse retrospective fertility histories from 44,351 women, born 1940-1969, interviewed in the British General Household Survey (1979-2009) and the UK Household Longitudinal Study (2009-2010). After describing educational differences in the timing of first birth and parity distributions, we quantify the relative contributions of childlessness, delayed entry into motherhood, and fertility rates conditional upon age at entry into motherhood, to educational differences in completed family size.

Results: Within each cohort, the educational gradient in completed family size is explained, in demographic accounting terms, almost entirely by educational differences in the proportions remaining childless and the age distribution of mothers at entry into motherhood. Conditional upon age at entry into motherhood, subsequent fertility rates are similar across educational groups and across cohorts.

Conclusions: Unlike for some other European countries, the postponement of motherhood to later ages in Britain has not resulted in a significant increase in childbearing among more-educated women who enter motherhood at later ages. The stability of aggregate measures of completed fertility in Britain is not the result of a straightforward process of postponement followed by recuperation.

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Accepted/In Press date: July 2015
Published date: 6 October 2015
Keywords: educational differentials fertility, cohort fertility, postponement of childbearing, recuperation of births, completed family size, childlessnes
Organisations: Social Statistics & Demography

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 379385
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/379385
PURE UUID: a9924869-9059-4be5-b337-508875645f41

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Date deposited: 28 Jul 2015 10:11
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 20:43

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