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

Professor in Demography, Departmental Research Coordinator

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Brienna is a Professor of Demography and is interested in fertility and family change in international comparison.

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 held a European Research Council starting grant (2011-16)  to study the increase in childbearing within cohabitation in industrialised countries. As part of the grant, she led a project that conducted focus group research in 9 countries and resulted in a Special Collection in Demographic Research called “Focus on Partnerships: Discourses on cohabitation and marriage throughout Europe and Australia.” Her research also examined the consequences of cohabitation, marriage, and childbearing. Working with collaborators from Australia, the U.S., Norway, and Germany, she analysed a range of outcomes across the lifecourse, including mental well-being, health, life satisfaction, and wages. Currently she holds an ESRC-funded Secondary Data Initiative grant to study relationship quality and family transitions in the UK and other European countries.

She is Associate Editor for the European Journal of Population, a member of the scientific board of the UK Household Longitudinal Survey, a member of the Generations and Gender Programme Council of Partners, and Chair of the IUSSP Scientific Panel on New and Emerging Family Forms around the Globe. 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
Professor Brienna Perelli-Harris
Social Statistics & Demography Social Sciences University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 58/4013

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