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Title: Pathways to parenthood : exploring context as a predictor of time to first parenthood
Author: Kneale, Dylan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2680 2570
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2009
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Striking patterns of late fertility are now firmly entrenched within British demography. This rise in age at first birth has not been observed uniformly across fertility schedules, but represents an exit from parenthood during the mid to late twenties. Substantial numbers of men and women continue to become parents at an early age while growing numbers postpone parenthood. Socioeconomic differentials predict age at first parenthood, with those with advantaged characteristics being associated with postponement. However, this pattern is by no means clear, and current models reveal that a substantial portion of the variance in timing remains unexplained. The overarching hypothesis tested in this thesis using data from two nationally representative birth cohort studies is that the timing of parenthood is a joint product of socioeconomic factors and contextual factors: Contextual factors govern the transition to parenthood through influencing the perception of socioeconomic factors in addition to sanctioning normative fertility behaviour. This theory is tested using fertility histories from both men and women, and modelling contextual childhood predictors of the timing of parenthood using binary logistic and event history regression models. Through examining the characteristics of early parents and those who postpone parenthood, this thesis finds that values about fertility and the lifecourse predict parenthood at both ends of the fertility spectrum, independent of socioeconomic factors. Philoprogenetive tendencies predict both early parenthood and moderate projections of future childlessness, while dislike of school, low parental educational expectations and region of residence predict early parenthood. The definition of 'early' parenthood is also explored thoroughly and is contrasted as being both a political and social construct. The conclusion of this exploration is the derivation of relative and absolute binary definitions of 'early' that are used throughout the thesis resulting in novel distinctions being found between patterns of early motherhood and early fatherhood.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available