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How do Socioeconomic Inequalities in Fertility Change over Time in the UK?

Principal Supervisors: Rebecca Sear, Lynda Clarke (LSHTM)

Co-Supervisor: George Ploubidis (IOE)

The aim of this project is to explore whether and how relationships between SEP and fertility behaviour have changed over time for both men and women in the UK, using the four UK cohort studies. Data: The project will use cohort data from the 1946 National Survey of Health and Development, 1958 National Child Development Study, 1970 British Cohort Study and the Millennium Cohort Study. All are nationally representative longitudinal surveys which collected detailed individual-level data at birth and regular subsequent intervals, including fertility histories, and socioeconomic data.  Methods: The project will use advanced quantitative methods. First, demographic techniques will be used to describe and compare fertility behaviour of both men and women across the cohorts (e.g. age-specific fertility rates, parity progression ratios, total fertility rates).  Second, the research question will be addressed using statistical methods to test the association between socioeconomic variables and fertility outcomes, controlling for potentially confounding factors, and also to disentangle the relative influence of early life and adult SEP on fertility.  This project will produce for the first time a clear picture of how SEP is linked to fertility outcomes in the UK. Fertility in Europe has fluctuated considerably over time and over space, despite having been relatively low throughout the 20th century, and there are still many gaps in our understanding of why fertility varies between individuals and over time. These UK cohorts provide an unparalleled opportunity to explore how the interaction between fertility and socioeconomic factors changes over time, during a period of both demographic and socioeconomic change. This study will be enormously valuable in adding to our understanding of the social and economic factors which influence fertility.

Candidate requirements

We invite applications from outstanding and highly motivated students with a social or biological sciences Masters degree, with some training in quantitative methods. We will additionally provide further training in both demographic and statistical methods as necessary, to suit the student's existing training and experience.

The studentship is open to Home/EU students as the studentship only covers fees at the Home/EU rate.

Key references

  • Clarke & Roberts (2011) Family structure and family policy and practice, in (eds) Bynner and Wadsworth. A Companion to Life Course Studies. Routledge
  • Nettle, Coall, et al. (2011). Early-life conditions and age at first pregnancy in British women. Proc Roy Soc B, 278(1712): 1721-1727
  • Sigle-Rushton, W. (2009) England and Wales: stable fertility and pronounced social status differences. Demog Res, 19 (15). 455-502

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal Supervisors: Rebecca Sear (, Lynda Clarke (

Co-Supervisor: George Ploubidis (

Further information about PhDs at LSHTM is available from:

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:

LSHTM uses an online application system, please see:

Please contact Rebecca Sear,, or Lynda Clarke,, with project queries; or for queries related to the submission of the application.

Please use the standard LSHTM application system to apply for this studentship and state clearly under the funding section that you are applying for this particular studentship. Since you are applying for an existing project you don't need to include a research proposal, so please instead upload a document which states that you are applying for this studentship.

If your fee status will not be assessed as Home/EU please provide an explanation on how you plan to fund the difference between the Home/EU fee rate and the Overseas fee rate.

Closing date for applications is Friday 24 April 2015