The impact of education on the transition to parenthood. An analysis of Belgian and British panel data -PhD thesis-

Publication type

Thesis/Degree/Other Honours


Publication date

June 1, 2011


The aim of this study is to investigate the complex relation between educational characteristics and the transition to parenthood. It contributes to the literature in this domain as well as to our understanding of post-war fertility change in the industrialised world first, by adopting a multidisciplinary approach, and second, by explicitly examining the life-course-, gender- and context-specific relation between educational attainment as well as enrolment and becoming a parent. The data for this study are drawn from two large-scale panel studies, the Panel Study of Belgian Households (PSBH) and the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), and are used to construct first birth, educational and partnership trajectories. The dependency of the duration until the first live birth on educational characteristics and other factors is analysed using methods for event history analysis. The main findings of the study are that, first, there is a positive relation between educational attainment and the timing of entering parenthood; second, higher educated Belgian men and women accelerate the entry into parenthood after leaving the education system; and third, the relation between educational characteristics and first births is context-specific. These results suggest an incompatibility between motherhood and women’s labour market activity and indicate that institutional as well as socio-cultural factors could mediate the relation between education and fertility. The study therefore provides a strong argument for explicitly incorporating the examination of life-course-, gender- and context-specific effects of educational characteristics on fertility in the research.




Not held in Research Library - bibliographic reference only



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest