Patterns of family formation
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The aim of the thesis was to examine patterns of family formation; to consider the ways families in one developed country had been built up and the future fertility changes that were anticipated. Interviews were conducted with one hundred and five women, each of whom had just had a second child, and the resulting accounts of their family formation patterns were subjected to a qualitative and quantitative analysis. Timing to the first child seemed to stem from the couple's view of marriage and the place of children within it. Three constellations of ideas were noted. Firstly, there were those couples (largely working class) who felt children were the primary reason for marriage and, hence, once married, it was best to begin the family as quickly as possible. Secondly, there were those couples (largely middle class) who, though they felt children were essential to a marriage, felt it was more important for newly-married couples to establish themselves financially. These couples tended to wait two or three years before beginning their families. Thirdly, there were those couples who felt children added to a marriage but that they must "fit in" with other arrangements the husband and wife had. These couples were not characteristically middle or working class and, in most cases, it was the woman's age which prompted them to have their first child. Timing to the second child seemed to be influenced mainly by the desire for a specific interval of time between children and there appeared to be two competing considerations in this regard. On the one hand, it was important to have children close so that they could be playmates and, on the other hand, it was important to have some space between them so that each child could get its share of attention. Most women appeared to be trying to balance these two considerations. With regard to future fertility intentions, most couples in our sample wanted and were planning on having only the two children. Most had always wanted a small family and could see few reasons to continue with childbearing, Those couples who were planning (or undecided about) additional children tended to be desirous of a mixed sex family and/or positively oriented towards larger families.