Macro-micro interactions in fertility transitions: differential responses in first birth behaviour to economic recession in the United Kingdom

Mark J. Lyons-Amos, Institute of Education
Ingrid Schoon, Institute of Education

External economic shocks have influenced birth rates throughout history, for example, following the Great depression or collapse of Eastern European socialism. However, while the UK experienced dramatic economic stress following the 2008 Great Recession, the demographic situation was somewhat different due to a prior upward fertility trend and increasing proportion of births in cohabitation. This paper therefore examines the effect of the Great Recession on fertility behaviour, recognising that the effect may result from economic influences at macro or micro level. We use a longitudinal sample from the BHPS and Understanding Societies surveys to track individual women and measure the correspondence between fertility preferences and outcomes. Latent Classes are used to evaluate differential effects across socio-economic groups at an individual level, while regression discontinuity establishes whether the 2008 crash had an influence on fertility behaviour. Initial results suggest some evidence of a changing fertility profile for younger cohorts, and evidence of a discontinuity in fertility rates following the 2008 crash.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 106: The great recession and fertility