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Two Decades of Fertility Fluctuation in Great Britain

Hill Kulu, University of St Andrews
Bernice Kuang, University of Southampton
Ann M. Berrington, University of Southampton

The last two decades have witnessed unexpected fluctuations in fertility levels in the United Kingdom. Fertility significantly increased in the first decade of the 21st century and declined thereafter. However, the causes of these fertility changes are unclear. The study will investigate childbearing trends in England, Wales and Scotland by birth order over the last two decades. We will use the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study and the Scottish Longitudinal Study to calculate annual parity-specific fertility rates by country. The preliminary analysis of the ONS LS data shows, first, declining first birth rates in the 1990s, a small increase in the first decade of this century and a new decline thereafter. Second, the timing of parenthood (e.g. postponement) has been mostly responsible for the changes in first birth rates. Third, second and third birth rates declined in the 1990s; second birth rates have remained stable in the first decades of this century, whereas third birth rates have slightly increased. Finally, both declining first, second and third birth rates contributed to declining fertility in the 1990s. Changes in first birth rates have explained most fluctuations in aggregate fertility since the turn of the century.

Keywords: Fertility and childbirth, Longitudinal studies, Cross-country comparative analyses

See paper.

  Presented in Session 85. European Fertility: Recent findings