Attitudes to Family Formation in Scotland

This report summarises the findings of two research studies commissioned externally by the Ministerial Population Taskforce on attitudes to family formation and ideal family size in Scotland. It includes the full report of the qualitative research exploring barriers and enablers of ideal family size


Annex 1 - Evidence Review

The first stage of the study was a review of existing evidence. Findings from this were used to prioritise the audiences to include in research and to inform the development of focus group and interview topic guides. This stage provided a clear steer on where there were gaps in understanding of the topic, which helped focus the following stages of primary research. It was also used to inform the selection of groups for inclusion in the subsequent stages of qualitative research.

This stage of research took place in the last week of March 2022. The approach was as follows:

  • The RAG provided a range of reports sourced from internal research papers. This was to serve as establishing a baseline of understanding for Progressive rather than informing the RAG. The research team summarised these as confirmation of understanding.
  • The RAG team suggested desk-based research with a focus on participant biases. A number of potential biases and limitations relevant to undertaking research were highlighted in the review including social desirability bias, temporal validity and projected decision-making, and selection/participant bias.
  • Identification of these potential issues allowed for steps to be taken to mitigate their possible effects and ensure they were considered in the interpretation of findings.
  • In addition to this the research team conducted a media trawl of websites used by parents and articles written on family planning. While this was not representative of wider public views it provided some interesting insights into the social commentary and issues that might influence decision-making.
  • The abstract, executive summary, conclusions or initial information from documents and articles were reviewed and prioritised, based on the extent to which the evidence addressed the research objectives.
  • Quality of evidence was considered for the inclusion of reports in the review. All were recent and relate directly to the objectives.

The full evidence review has been provided to the RAG separately. A summary of outcomes is outlined below.

Avoiding bias in research

  • A number of potential biases and limitations relevant to undertaking research were highlighted in the review including social desirability bias, temporal validity and projected decision-making, and selection/participant bias.
  • Identification of these potential issues allowed for steps to be taken to mitigate their possible effects and ensured they were considered in the interpretation of findings.
  • A number of steps to overcome limitations/biases were outlined in the document, including stringent recruitment processes, clear definition of the scope of research and impartiality of language/tone in topic guide design and in moderation/interviewing.
  • All of the biases and limitations of research identified were be considered in the research design, mitigating actions taken to limit their impact, and acknowledgement of any potential impacts included in interpretation and reporting of findings.

Internal research papers

  • All the data reviewed supports the observations of a fall in populations figures.
  • Factors influencing fertility highlighted by research papers examined included parent's family plans, relationship status, education and economic/job status and prospects.
  • Wider macro-economic conditions, intergenerational values and cultural/social/religious norms were also found to play a part.
  • Differences in Total Fertility Rate (TFR) across age groups and Socio economic groups were noted with TFR consistently highest for most deprived groups (from 2005-2020).
  • All of the influencing factors identified were considered in research design.

Media review

  • Newspaper articles suggest that cost of living appears to be a major barrier for GenZ and Millennials who would love to have children but give lack of affordability as a major reason.
  • Age, cost and lifestyle changes are key considerations according to YouGov.
  • The review suggests there are positive decisions made about not having a family and restricting family size.
  • There is an assumption across some parenting websites that having multiple children is a given and that once a first born arrives there is pressure to have more.
  • All of the influencing factors identified were considered in research design. This included ensuring recruitment included: people aged 18 to 25 who have a desire to have a family, people aged 18 to 25 who have no desire to have a family, and parents of single children who have decided against having any more.

Contact

Email: population@gov.scot

Back to top