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Social Statistics and DemographyPart of Economic, Social & Political Science
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Dr Brienna Perelli-Harris PhD

Associate Professor in Demography, Departmental Research Coordinator

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Associate Professor Perelli-Harris joined the University of Southampton in 2011. Previously she was a Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany and a post-doc at the University of Wisconsin. She completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Michigan in 2006.


Are the changes in partnership formation that we see occurring around the world universal or unique to each context?

Dr. Perelli-Harris is interested in studying changes in the family in comparative perspective. Working with researchers across Europe, the USA and Australia, she uses demographic techniques, advanced quantitative methods, in-depth qualitative approaches, and policy analysis to explore the underlying reasons for the development of new family formation behaviours. 

Dr. Perelli-Harris recently completed a five-year European Research Council starting grant to study the increase in childbearing within cohabitation in industrialised countries (visit This project provided insights into why cohabitation has increased so rapidly in some countries, but not in others. As part of this project, she edited a Special Collection in Demographic Research “Focus on Partnerships: Discourses on cohabitation and marriage throughout Europe and Australia.” Currently, her research examines the consequences of cohabitation, marriage, and childbearing. Working with collaborators from Australia, the U.S., Norway, and Germany, she has analysed a range of outcomes across the lifecourse, including mental well-being, health, life satisfaction, and wages. 

She is an Associate Editor for the European Journal of Population and a member of the Generations and Gender Programme Council of Partners. In 2016, the European Association for Population Studies awarded her the Dirk van de Kaa Award for Social Demography.



Research interests

My research investigates changes in the family across countries, including: nonmarital childbearing, fertility, union formation; demographic techniques, mixed-methods; decline to very low fertility and family change in the former Soviet Union.

Work in progress

  • the reciprocal relationship between polices and union formation across Europe
  • differentials in fertility by union status
  • the spatial distribution of nonmarital fertility across Europe
  • changes in attitudes and values towards cohabitation and childbearing within cohabitation in Europe and Australia

Research project(s)

Childbearing within Cohabitation

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Book Chapters



Working Papers

Supervising research projects on:

  • social mobility and fertility
  • the analysis and prediction of family-life event sequences
  • union dissolution and fertility in new partnerships
Dr Brienna Perelli-Harris
Social Statistics & Demography Social Sciences University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number: 58/4013

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