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Title: The changing nature of family formation in Ireland
Author: Hannan, Carmel
ISNI:       0000 0000 4493 202X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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The past century has seen striking changes in family formation in Ireland. Family dynamics are fundamental aspects of social change, but they have been neglected by social research in Ireland since the 1970s. This thesis draws on already available national data to study movements into marriage and parenthood in detail and thereby improve our understanding of family dynamics. The research focuses, in the main, on the 1926 to 1991 census period; a period characterised by the transition from high rates of nonmarriage and large family sizes to more standard European levels. The study primarily addresses the class dimension of family formation. Social class remains a strong predictor of marriage and fertility patterns. The study first maps the long-standing trend of higher rates of non-marriage and higher rates of marital fertility in the poorer sections of Irish society. The fertility levels of the class categories experiencing economic marginalisation have remained high so that the burden of dependency is heaviest among working class and farming families. Fertility decline was, however, evident in all socio-economic groups. Secondly, the thesis provides the first serious examination of quantitative evidence to assess the hypothesis that high rates of marital fertility act as a marriage deterrent. Despite the availability of more effective fertility controls, marriage plans continue to be influenced by the size of the prospective family. The results highlight the importance of economic resources as a prerequisite to marriage. Economic rationality is not, however, the only driving force. Thirdly, the thesis investigates the degree to which changes in family formation were related to changes in the composition of Irish society. A standardisation exercise isolating the effects of population structure revealed that class compositional changes cannot account for changes in male fertility rates over the course of the twentieth century but, were important in understanding declining rates of celibacy.
Supervisor: Breen, Richard Sponsor: Nuffield Studentship ; ESRI ; ESRC ; Predergast Bequest
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology ; Families ; celibacy ; marriage ; fertility