Revisiting the Fertility Transition in England and Wales: The Role of Social Class and Migration

Hannaliis Jaadla*, Alice Reid, Eilidh Garrett, Kevin Schürer, Joseph Day

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We use individual-level census data for England and Wales for the period 1851–1911 to investigate the interplay between social class and geographical context determining patterns of childbearing during the fertility transition. We also consider the effect of spatial mobility or lifetime migration on individual fertility behavior in the early phases of demographic modernization. Prior research on the fertility transition in England and Wales has demonstrated substantial variation in fertility levels and declines by different social groups; however, these findings were generally reported at a broad geographical level, disguising local variation and complicated by residential segregation along social class and occupational lines. Our findings confirm a clear pattern of widening social class differences in recent net fertility, providing strong support for the argument that belonging to a certain social group was an important determinant of early adoption of new reproductive behavior in marriage in England and Wales. However, a relatively constant effect of lower net fertility among long-distance migrants both before the transition and in the early phases of declining fertility indicates that life course migration patterns were most likely factor in explaining the differences in fertility operating through postponement of marriage and childbearing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1543-1569
Number of pages27
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Census microdata
  • England and Wales
  • Fertility transition
  • Migration
  • Nineteenth century


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