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The University of Southampton

DEMO6027 Family Demography

Module Overview

This module exploits the fact that we have a group of world class family demographers in the Department of Social Statistics and Demography, and the ESRC Centre for Population Change who are engaged in research on the determinants of family change and implications for policy. Given the importance of families e.g. for the socialisation of children and individuals’ subsequent life course trajectories there is a need to train postgraduate students to be able to critically evaluate theory and evidence in this often contested area of policy making.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To examine changes in family and household relationships from a demographic perspective. The module focuses in some seminars on family dynamics in Europe and the US, but also considers the extent to which similar debates are valid in resource poor settings e.g. in South Africa. The module explores (sometimes competing) explanations for these changes and their implications e.g. for individuals and for policy. We draw on literature from a number of disciplines including demography, sociology, social policy and economics.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify the key changes in family formation that have occurred in recent decades
  • Describe the competing explanations for recent family change
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the implications of changes in the family for individuals and policy


Each session will be a double slot. Week 1: Lecture - Introduction to the course, instructions for participation, assessment and overview of key trends in family formation and dissolution Week 2: Lecture - Theoretical Perspectives on Family Change Week 3: Seminars on: Marriage systems around the world Week 4: Seminar on Transitions to Adulthood in the Great Recession Week 5: Lecture 3: Evaluating evidence on the consequences of family change Week 6: Seminar on difficulties in quantifying the impact of family structure on children’s lives Week 7: no session Week 8: Implications of Family Change for Child Wellbeing (focus on South Africa) Week 9: Student presentations on their essay outlines Week 10: Seminar on policy response to family change Week 11: No session Week 12: Family change, inter-generational support and policy

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be via lectures, seminars and independent study. Learning activities will include formal lectures, student presentations of their essay outline, participating in seminar discussions, writting reflective reviews of key readings, essay writing and independent study. There will be three lectures and seven in depth seminars. The seminars will be led by the lecturer but will involve discussion by students. In one seminat the students will present and receive oral feedback on their proposed essay topic and outline.

Independent Study80
Total study time100

Resources & Reading list

Parental divorce and subsequent disadvantage: A cross-cohort comparison.. Demography. ,42 , pp. 427-446.

Furlong, A. (2009). Handbook of youth and Young Adulthood: New Perspectives and Agendas. 

Eggebeen, D. J., & Knoester, C. (2001). Does fatherhood matter for men?. Journal of Marriage and Family. ,63 , pp. 381-393.

Preference theory and low fertility: A comparative perspective. European Journal of Population. ,25 , pp. 413-438.

Becker, G. S., Landes, E. M., & Michael, R. T. (1977). An economic analysis of marital instability. The Journal of Political Economy. ,85 , pp. 1141-1187.

Holdsworth, C. and Morgan, D (2005). Transitions in Context: Leaving Home, Independence and Adulthood.. 

Gender equity in theories of fertility transition. Population and development review. ,26 , pp. 427-439.

The educational gradient of childbearing within cohabitation in Europe. Population and development review. ,36 , pp. 775-801.

Lewis, J. (2001). The End of Marriage: Individualism and Intimate Relations. 

The second demogrpahic transition in Western countries: An interpretation. In K.O. Oppenheim Mason and A.M. Jensen (eds) Gender and Family Change in Industrialized countries.. 

Bhrolcháin, M. N. (2001). â€˜Divorce effects’ and causality in the social sciences. European Sociological Review. ,17 , pp. 33-57.

Two decades of family change: The shifting economic foundations of marriage.. American Sociological Review. ,67 , pp. 132-147.

Ermisch, J. (2003). An Economic Analysis of the Family .. 

Mills, M., Mencarini, L., Tanturri, M. L., & Begall, K. (2008). Gender equity and fertility intentions in Italy and the Netherlands.. Demographic research. ,18 , pp. pg 1-26.

Barlow, A., Duncan, S., & James, G. (2002). New Labour, the rationality mistake and family policy in Britain. Analysing families: Morality and rationality in policy and practice. 

Cohabitation in the United States: An appraisal of research themes, findings, and implications. Annual review of sociology. ,26 , pp. pg 1-20.

Beaujouan, É., & Ní Bhrolcháin, M. (2011). Cohabitation and marriage in Britain since the 1970s. Population Trends. ,145 , pp. 35-59.

Kiernan, K. (2006). Non-residential fatherhood and child involvement: evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study. Journal of Social Policy. ,35 , pp. 651.

Explaining family change and variation: Challenges for family demographers. Journal of Marriage and Family. ,67 , pp. 908-925.

The changing determinants of UK young adults' living arrangements.. Demographic Research. ,25 , pp. 629-66.

Cherlin, A. (2009). The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family In America Today. 

How Similar Are Cohabitation and Marriage? Legal Approaches to Cohabitation across Western Europe. Population and Development Review. ,38 , pp. 435-467.

McLanahan, S. (2004). Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition. Demography. ,41 , pp. 607-627.

Berrington, A., Stone, J., & Falkingham, J. (2009). The changing living arrangements of young adults in the UK. Population Trends. ,138 , pp. 27-37.



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 70%
Reflective Review  (1000 words) 15%
Reflective Review  (1000 words) 15%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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