Gender, Occupation and First Birth: Do 'Career Men' Delay First Birth Too?



Ralston K, Gayle V & Lambert P (2016) Gender, Occupation and First Birth: Do 'Career Men' Delay First Birth Too?. Sociological Research Online, 21 (1), Art. No.: 3.

In the period following the turn of the Century European total fertility rates (TFR) dropped to well below replacement. Work examining this highlights that cohort postponement in births contributes to low TFRs. It is generally recognised that women in more advantaged occupations often postpone childbearing in contrast to those in less advantaged occupational groups. However, relatively little research has been conducted on men in similar terms. This paper contrasts the timing of first birth by occupational class between men and women using individual level data in a case study of Scotland. The data are an extract from the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS). This provides a 5.3% sample of the population of Scotland from the 1991 Census. The research applies the Cox proportional hazard model to estimate the speed to first birth during a period of observation between 1991 and 2006. Class is measured using NS-SEC 8 class analytic version. The model controls marital status, educational attainment, raised religion and urban-rural geography. It is found that 'career men' who occupy more advantaged occupational positions do not delay first birth in contrast to men in other occupational categories. This is in contrast to the well-known phenomenon of career women who have later childbearing. Our analysis shows that gender inequalities in how the social structure influences childbearing offer an avenue of explanation for wider patterns of social inequality.

First Birth; Childbearing; Occupation; Gender; Fertility; Scotland

Sociological Research Online: Volume 21, Issue 1

Publication date29/02/2016
Date accepted by journal08/01/2016

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Professor Paul Lambert

Professor Paul Lambert

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology