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The University of Southampton
Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute

Research project: Family attitudes and demographic behaviour

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Understanding social change in family norms and the extent to which an individual’s attitudes shape and are shaped by their demographic experiences are key research questions.

In order to understand individual change over time, it is necessary to collect data which have repeated measures of the same thing, taken from the same set of individuals over time. The incorporation of a time dimension brings with it greater leverage on questions of causality. However, the statistical techniques suitable for this type of data are generally more complex and difficult to apply than those appropriate for data collected at a single time point. In particular, they must accommodate the fact that observations for the same individual over time are unlikely to be independent of one another, a basic assumption of cross-sectional modelling techniques.

In an effort to bring some of these techniques to the closer attention of the community of social scientists, this project, funded by the ESRC under the Research Methods Programme, applied a range of different techniques to the analysis of the relationship between family attitudes and demographic behaviour. The outputs of these analyses have fed into a number of publications, conference presentations and courses aimed at a broad range of both academic and non-academic users.

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