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

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posted on 19.12.2018, 12:59 by Ann Berrington, Juliet Stone, Eva Beaujouan
© 2015 Ann Berrington, Juliet Stone & Eva Beaujouan. 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.

Funding

This work is funded by the ESRC, grant ES/K007394/1.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

Demographic Research

Volume

33

Issue

1

Pages

733 - 764

Citation

BERRINGTON, A., STONE, J. and BEAUJOUAN, E., 2015. Educational differences in timing and quantum of childbearing in Britain: A study of cohorts born 1940-1969. Demographic Research, 33(1), pp. 733 - 764.

Publisher

© the Authors. Published by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 2.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

Publication date

2015

Notes

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 2.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

eISSN

1435-9871

Language

en

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