A bulletin presented statistics on the childbearing patterns of women in England and Wales. The average completed family size for women born in 1964 and completing their childbearing in 2009 was 1.9 children per woman. This compared with the previous generation, represented by women born in 1937, who had on average of 2.4 children. Levels of childlessness among women born in 1964 (1 in 5) were higher than for women born in 1937 (1 in 8).
Source: Cohort Fertility 2009, Office for National Statistics
An article examined the educational gradient of childbearing in cohabitation in 8 countries across Europe. In all countries studied, birth risks within cohabitation demonstrated a negative educational gradient. When directly comparing cohabiting fertility with marital fertility, the negative educational gradient persisted in all countries except Italy, although differences were not significant in Austria, France, and West Germany.
Source: Brienna Perelli-Harris et al., 'The educational gradient of childbearing within cohabitation in Europe', Population and Development Review, Volume 36 Issue 4
An article used data from the 1991 to 2007 General Household Surveys to examine trends in family intentions data, in an attempt to arrive at a better understanding of recent fertility developments. Average intended family size had been consistently higher than the actual average fertility rate throughout that period.
Source: Maire Ni Bhrolchain, Eva Beaujouan and Ann Berrington, 'Stability and change in fertility intentions in Britain, 1991-2007', Population Trends 141, Winter 2010, Office for National Statistics
A paper used data from the British Household Panel Survey to examine changes in people's childbearing plans. Changes to childbearing plans were influenced by a much wider range of factors than normally thought. People changed their plans in response to the wishes of their partners, in response to social norms, as the result of repartnering, and as the result of learning about the costs and benefits of parenthood. There were also differences between the factors which influence men's and women's decision-making.
Source: Maria Iacovou and Lara Patrício Tavares, Yearning, Learning and Conceding: (Some of) the reasons people change their childbearing intentions, Working Paper 2010-22, Institute for Social and Economic Research/University of Essex
An article examined trends in births within and outside marriage in England and Wales in the previous two decades. It then examined the driving factors behind the ongoing rise in the proportion of births outside marriage, with a particular focus on the proportion of married women of childbearing age, and changes in marital and non-marital fertility rates. It gave the first estimates of fertility for cohabiting women of different ages.
Source: Louise O'Leary, Eva Natamba, Julie Jefferies and Ben Wilson, 'Fertility and partnership status in the last two decades', Population Trends 140, Summer 2010, Office for National Statistics
In 2009, for women resident in England and Wales, the total number of abortions was 189,100, compared with 195,296 in 2008 (a fall of 3.2 per cent).
Source: Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2009, Department of Health
A paper examined the influence of personality traits on the timing of motherhood, and whether personality traits could explain the differences in maternity timing between more- and less-educated women.
Source: Lara Tavares, Who Delays Childbearing? The relationships between fertility, education and personality traits, Working Paper 2010-17, Institute for Social and Economic Research/University of Essex
An article examined the personal and household characteristics of women born between 1956 and 1960 in relation to their lifelong fertility outcomes. Single women were the most likely, and married women the least likely, to be childless. For those with partners, childless women were more often in a 'non-traditional' partnership, including cohabitations, and tended more often to have wider age gaps with their partners. In terms of women's own characteristics, the economically active were more likely to be childless, and childless women had a slightly higher social and economic status compared with mothers. Childlessness was often associated with the presence of a limiting long-term illness and a lack of any siblings in childhood.
Source: Martina Portanti and Simon Whitworth, 'Lifelong childlessness in England and Wales: evidence from the ONS Longitudinal Study', Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, Volume 1 Number 2
In 2008 there were an estimated 887,800 conceptions in England and Wales, compared with 895,900 in 2007 – a decrease of 0.9 per cent. This represented the first fall in the number of conceptions since 2001. The provisional conception rate for 2008 had also fallen slightly to 79.9 conceptions per thousand women aged 15-44, from 80.5 in 2007. A total of 41,325 women under 18 fell pregnant in 2008, down 3.9 per cent from 42,988 in 2007.
Source: Conceptions in England and Wales, 2008, Office for National Statistics