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Contemporary Fathers in the UK

We are conducting the most comprehensive review ever undertaken of decades of research into the roles and impacts of UK fathers in families. View our methodology here.

Contemporary Fathers in the UK, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, features a series of rigorously researched but accessibly written themed reports – which you will find below.


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.

Our fatherhood research library

Our fatherhood research library, developed as part of the Contemporary Fathers in the UK project, is a unique resource, systematically created through searches of eleven bibliographic databases and a systematic reference screening process. 

The library, held in Endnote software, is continuously updated with new research as this is published: it holds thousands of records including academic articles, book chapters and research reports about fathers, fatherhood and inter parental relationships in the UK, together with related policy and practice documents published from 1998 to the present day. International research reviews, methodology papers and publications relating to genetics and epigenetic are also included.

We can now offer bibliographic outputs from the library to researchers, students and organisations working in the fatherhood and families arenas. For more details see page 6 of our services for researchers and research funders brochure.

The kids are alright: Adolescents and their fathers in the UK [2023-4]

girl sharing something on her phone with her father

There are three reports from this project: 


A research review exploring the current state of father-child relationships in the UK and reports on associations from both cross-sectional and longitudinal research between ‘father factors’ (characteristics, behaviour, attitudes) and outcomes for young people in adolescence and young adulthood. This report includes policy and practice recommendations. You can also watch a recording of our launch webinar and read our summary blog and case studies.

A review of six of the main longitudinal datasets in the UK, identifying data collection and analysis gaps in relation to fathers and adolescents.


A report highlighting research gaps and recommendations from both of the above reviews.

Watch our webinar focused on the latter two reports, and download the press notice.

Bringing Baby Home: UK fathers in the first year after birth [2022]

man and baby playing together at an adventure playground

'Bringing Baby Home', our review of empirical evidence about UK fathers/fatherhood in the first postnatal year, picks up where our earlier report, 'Who’s the Bloke in the Room?' left off.


The report explores who dads are; what they do as caregivers, and what influences this; what impact they have (on children and mothers); and how services engage with them.


The report begins with a synthesis of findings from a scope of the research literature.


It goes on to explore questions asked about fathers postnatally in three major UK birth cohort studies (ALSPAC, the MCS and GUS), identifying data available for analysis and data collection gaps.


Finally, it makes recommendations for research, policy and practice.

We have produced a series of free factsheets summarising key messages from the report, aimed at families and the people who support them. The aim of these factsheets is to:

  • Help new fathers make sense of their impact, even if services are not addressing them

  • Provide a clear rationale for the health professionals, employers and others around new fathers, to value and support them in the vital first year of their babies’ lives

  1. New dads are present

  2. New dads are involved

  3. New dads' involvement matters to children

  4. New dads' involvement matters to mothers

  5. New dads need better support from health services

  6. New dads need more workplace support

Lockdown Fathers - The untold story: fatherhood during the first Covid-19 lockdown in the UK [2021]

man helping his child with schoolwork at home

This report explores the lockdown experiences of fathers in two parent households; separated fathers; Asian and Black fathers; gay fathers; and fathers in different socio-economic groups.


Changes in fathers’ and partner’s working and caretaking patterns were recorded, as well as perceived impacts on mental and physical wellbeing and couple relationships.


This study is grounded in a representative sample of 2045 fathers of children aged under 12, supplemented by analysis of others’ recent studies. It was undertaken in collaboration with the polling organisation Thinks Insight & Strategy (formerly Britain Thinks).


Implications for government and employers, schools and nurseries, child and family wellbeing and gender equality are discussed.

Who's the Bloke in the Room? Fathers during pregnancy and at the birth in the UK [2018]

man caressing his partner's pregnant belly

This report focuses particularly on the antenatal period, although we include short sections on the birth and the neonatal period.


Integrated throughout 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

Where's the Daddy? Fathers and father-figures in UK datasets [2018]

two dads reading to their children

Complementing our topic-based analysis, we have been investigating how statistical information about British fathers (‘raw data’) is collected and analysed.


In our first review of datasets, Where's the Daddy?, 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.

Cash or Carry? Fathers combining work and care in the UK [2017]

office worker dropping his children at school

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).

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