Reflecting on the Past: Long-Term Spatial Persistence of Fertility Behaviour from the First to the Second Demographic Transition in England and Wales

Stephanie Thiehoff , University of Southampton
Hinde Andrew, University of Southampton
Brienna Perelli-Harris, University of Southampton
Agnese Vitali, University of Trento

Examining fertility on the sub-national instead of national level often reveals striking regional differences and strong spatial clustering in fertility patterns. Research shows that such spatial clusters can persist over decades. The aim of this paper is to investigate whether similar long-term patterns of fertility behaviour exist in England and Wales. For the analysis, we use historical small-scale geographical data form the Population Past project and recent geographical data provided by the Office for National Statistics. First, we identify leading areas of demographic innovations in England and Wales from 1861 to recent times. To examine persistencies, we construct spatial econometric models in a second step to predict Second Demographic Transition (SDT) indicators (Total Fertility Rates, Non-Marital Ratios, prevalence of cohabitation) by indicators related to the First Demographic Transition (FDT), e.g. Total Marital Fertility Rates, Illegitimacy Ratios, celibacy and age at marriage. Descriptive maps and Global Moran’s I illustrate strong spatial clustering of all considered indicators. They also reveal that historical illegitimacy and fertility patterns exhibit remarkable similarities in spatial clustering compared to current levels of non-marital fertility and prevalence of cohabitation. Similar to previous findings for Belgium, these indicators can be considered as non-conformist behaviour at the respective time. With predicting SDT indicators using spatial econometric models we expect to corroborate statistically that there are spatial continuities between the FDT and SDT. Such an analysis has the potential to show how reflecting on past demographic developments can enrich our understanding of contemporary and potentially future spatial patterns of family formation.

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 Presented in Session 130. Fertility over Time and Space