Revisiting the fertility transition in England and Wales: The role of social class and migration
journal contributionposted on 17.10.2019, 16:35 by H Jaadla, E Garrett, A Reid, K Schurer
We use individual level census data for England and Wales from 1851–1911 to investigate the interplay between social class and geographical context determining patterns of child bearing during the fertility transition. We also consider the effect of spatial mobility or life-time migration on individual fertility behaviour in the early phases of demographic modernisation. 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 behaviour in marriage in England and Wales. However, a relatively constant effect of lower net fertility amongst long-distance migrants both before the transition and in the early phases of declining fertility indicates that life-course migration patterns were most likely factors in explaining the differences in fertility operating through postponement of marriage and child bearing.