Accounting for age-specific fertility differences between England & Wales and France using the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study
Robards, J.W. (2009) BSPS Annual Conference, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 9 - 11 September 2009 [ONS LS]
The United Kingdom has adopted a different form of family policy compared with France; this is a deep-rooted and continued difference that has attracted previous research. However, similar overall period fertility rates over a long time frame obscure remarkable contrasts in fertility trends across population subgroups. In England and Wales one of the key features of below-replacement has been the decline in fertility among those in their twenties. This trend has continued since the early 1990s but differs from the age specific trends seen in other European countries including France, where fertility among those in their twenties has remained more stable.
This paper assesses the empirical background to the fertility differentials across groups in England and Wales compared with France. It then outlines doctoral research that will understand the demographic differences between the two countries in detail and seek to evaluate the role of policy in accounting for the trends observed. The first stage of this work will assess the relative influence of family policy and socioeconomic variables on the fertility of those in their twenties in England and Wales using the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study. The Longitudinal Study is a dataset that has been widely used in fertility research because of its large sample size. However, the characteristics and quality of the dataset have been overlooked or unexplained in recent publications using it. Initial findings from analysis using the Longitudinal Study and solutions to issues encountered will be given.