Fertility and Social Change: the Neglected Contribution of Men's Approaches to Becoming Partners and Parents

Lynn Jamieson, Kathryn Backett Milburn, Roona Simpson, Fran Wasoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attitude survey and interview data are mobilised to address neglect of men's contribution to low fertility and wider social change in families and relationships. Men's attitudes are as relevant as women's to understanding fertility behaviour. However, fertility behaviour can only be understood in the context of a package of changes in gender relations and family life. Data from a random sample of men aged 18-49 surveyed in the Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey 2005/06 are combined with in-depth interviews conducted in 2007 with 75 men aged 25-44 identified through the Scottish Household Survey as not living in co-resident partnership arrangements. Both datasets encompass the age span conventionally associated with having children and men who were the potential partners of women delaying a first child until their 30s. They allow consideration of the impact of social contact with parents and children on men's fertility intentions and how the role of provider features in men's views about parenting. The interviews focus on men who have fallen out of, or have not entered, co-resident partnerships and examine the relationship between partnering and parenting. In combination the data suggest how men act as a complementary or contradictory downward drag on women's fertility and that their role has been underestimated in understanding the package of family change of which low fertility is a part.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-485
Number of pages23
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010




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