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The University of Southampton
Social Statistics and DemographyPart of Economic, Social & Political ScienceOur research

Family and Social Demography

Our department is recognised for its use of quantitative and qualitative methods to study social processes and family change.

One of our main areas of research is on the voluntary sector. Our work considers the impact of austerity on voluntary organisations and the services they provide. We study geographical differences in the number of voluntary organisations and how they complement social welfare and wellbeing. 

Our group of family demographers investigates changes in the life course in the UK and in international comparison. In the UK, we study the partnership formation, childbearing, and relationship quality. This work provides a better understanding of how factors such as housing, welfare receipt, and education influence leaving home, partnership and childbearing decisions. Understanding how society can support families is particularly important in the context of economic uncertainty and the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

We also have a strong interest in studying family change around the world. Our work examines the emergence of cohabitation throughout Europe, the US, and Australia. We look at the association between different types of partnership and outcomes such as well-being, health, and sleep. Our work on abortion and reproductive behaviour spans across Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. We also have a strength in studying African family health and demography in the context of high levels of HIV and poverty.

Our group is part of the Fertility and Family strand of the Centre for Population Change and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, European Research Council, Wellcome Trust, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We are in partnership with organizations such as the Department of Work and Pensions, Office of National Statistics, Population Europe, and the Guttmacher Institute. We welcome PhD applicants who are interested in studying the family in a variety of contexts and from a wide range of perspectives.

family forms

Understanding new family forms

Our research studies the emergence of cohabitation and changes in partnership formation from a number of analytical and theoretical perspectives .


Voluntary Sector

Focusing on the voluntary sector within the context of Family and social Demography

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Our work also investigates sexual and reproductive health topics, such as induced abortion, contraceptive use and pregnancy intentions.

Familes in southern Africa

Familes in southern Africa

Improving the health of families in low and middle-income rural communities affected by generalised HIV epidemics.

Who's related

Professor Ann Berrington

Professor Brienna Perelli-Harris

Professor Vicky Hosegood

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