Contemporary Fathers in the UK: our review of research on British dads

8 March 2021

The Fatherhood Institute, supported by the Nuffield Foundation, has been compiling (and continues to compile) a literature library of mainly academic articles, book chapters and reports about fathers and fatherhood in the UK. 

This study is the most comprehensive review ever undertaken in Britain on decades of research into the roles of fathers in families. Our study period is from 1998 to the present day; and, in order to be included, publications must draw on empirical research (UK samples) or describe or reflect on relevant research methodologies, or on UK policy or practice. 

Drawing on these activities, we are publishing a series of reports, Contemporary Fathers in the UK; as we publish them we will upload them to this page.  Each of the reports explores a separate topic area we judge to be of interest to researchers, policy makers and practitioners, as well as to the general public, and in respect of which we have been able to identify a significant amount of UK research.

Find out more about our methodology for the review: Methodology PDF

Cash or carry: Fathers combining work and care in the UK

Cash or carry is the first report from the Contemporary Fathers in the UK series, which explores key sections of our new library of literature on UK fathers and fatherhood. The report looks at paid work and unpaid care-giving.

In post-industrial economies, reconciling provisioning and daily care of one’s family is an important task for both men and women. The bulk of our report examines how contemporary British fathers manage such reconciliation, and the contexts (cultural, legislative, institutional, social and familial) framing their behaviour.

Almost all the findings we present here are drawn from studies of two-parent families. When there is research evidence on fathers who parent their children alone or for part of the time we report on it – but such research is rare. It is also rare for two-parent-family research to distinguish between birth fathers and ‘social’ fathers (stepfathers, mothers’ boyfriends, adoptive fathers, foster fathers, and so on).

Cash or carry Executive Summary PDF

Cash or carry Recommendations PDF

Cash or Carry Press Release FINAL PDF

Cash and carry Full Report PDF

Where’s the daddy?

Complementing our topic-based analysis, we have been investigating how information about British fathers (‘raw data’) is collected and researched. We undertook this work in two phases. In Phase One, we investigated sixteen large-scale repeated cross-sectional and longitudinal UK research datasets to discover how they collect information on British fathers; and how they identify and differentiate different types of fathers and father-figures. In Phase Two, we selected three datasets from among the sixteen, and looked at which substantive data items had been collected on three specific topics.

Where’s the daddy? Fathers and father-figures in UK datasets presents the findings from Phase One of our datasets review.

Where’s the daddy Executive Summary

Where’s the daddy Condensed Report

Where’s the daddy Full Report

Who’s the Bloke in the Room? Fathers during pregnancy and at the birth in the UK

In the UK there have been more studies of fathers across the transition to parenthood than at any other life stage. Who’s the Bloke in the Room? focuses particularly on the antenatal period, although we include short sections on the birth and the neonatal period. Integrated throughout this Report are findings from Phase 2 of our datasets review, during which we examined three ‘birth cohort studies’ – the Avon Longitudinal Study of Children and Parents (Alspac), the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS], and Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) – to see what questions they asked about the fathers of cohort members in pregnancy and around the time of birth. The report also includes results from How was it for you?, an online survey of dads’ experiences, which we conducted with Fathers Network Scotland during May 2018.

Who’s the Bloke Executive Summary

Who’s the Bloke in the Room? Full Report

Who’s The Bloke Press Release Final

How was it for you? UK results

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