Long term trends in life-time spent with children

Ursula Henz, London School of Economics and Political Science

[Project number 30127]

This project examines trends in British women and men living with children in the course of their lives. It willl examine differences by educational, ethnic and occupational groups as well as different experiences like living with a single child, several children, and where possible, stepchildren.

The United States has seen a decrease in the life time that men spend in families with children (Eggebeen & Uhlenberg 1985; Eggebeen 2002). There is reason to believe that Britain has seen an even stronger decline of co-residential fatherhood because of the higher prevalence of single motherhood. This is important because it would mean that fatherhood is even more selective, i.e. differences between fathers and non-fathers might get stronger. However, to obtain a more complete picture, trends for both women and men will be examined. The research objectives are:

1) To estimate the age-specific shares of women and men living with children in Britain in the four census years;
2) To estimate the age-specific shares of women and men living with different types of children in Britain for different calendar years, e.g. children of a certain age or stepchildren;
3) To explore differences in these shares between socio-demographic groups, e.g. by education, occupation and ethnicity.
4) To examine cohort changes in men's and women's co-residence patterns with chidlren.

Only few alternative data sets span forty years as the LS does. For some group comparisons, these smaller data sets will run out of cases. No other data set would allow a detailed comparison of ethnic groups. In addition, the 2001 wave identifies stepchildren. As the 1971 census included women's marriage dates it is hoped that one can generate some approximation for living with stepchildren in 1971 and compare the shares with 2001.