Contextualising demography: the significance of local clusters of fertility in Scotland
This study links empirical analysis of geographical variations in fertility to ideas of contextualising demography. We examine whether there are statistically significant clusters of fertility in Scotland between 1981 and 2001, controlling for more general factors expected to influence fertility. Our hypothesis, that fertility patterns at a local scale cannot be explained entirely by ecological socio-economic variables, is supported. In fact, there are ‘unexplained’ local clusters of high and low fertility, which would be masked in analyses at a different scale. We discuss the demographic significance of local fertility clusters as contexts for fertility behaviour, including the role of the housing market and social interaction processes, and the residential sorting of those displaying or anticipating different fertility behaviour. We conclude that greater understanding of local geographical contexts is needed if we are to develop mid-level demographic theories and shift the focus of fertility research from events to processes.
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