children playing

Starting life in Scotland in the new millennium: Population replacement and the reproduction of disadvantage

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
The Allander series
Joshi, Heather and Wright, Robert
Publication Date: 
2 Oct 2003

Available in print for order (see SOURCE) and online for download.

Excerpts from paper

Scotland, in line with the rest of Europe, is experiencing low rates of child-bearing and its population is ageing. This does not necessarily mean that people in Scotland are going grey at a faster rate than they used to. Rather, it means that there is an increasing proportion of elderly people in its population, with more people who are growing old than are growing up. The "birth dearth" and "population greying" are not unconnected: low fertility is the key influence on the age structure of a population as well as the rate of population growth.

This paper is about the renewal of the Scottish population. The main focus is on cradles rather than graves and the conditions into which new Scots are being born. We look at the circumstances of individual families in the context of economic opportunities and public policies. These circumstances not only affect both the timing and probability of family formation, but also influence the life chances of those who are born.

...Child-care is still mainly the mothers' responsibility, although fathers play an important role in the portfolios of arrangements. Report shows the main child-care arrangements of the mothers in employment when their child was nine months old. Around one quarter of them relied on the fathers as the main source of care, fewer if the mother's job was full-time. The largest category of main childcare arrangement was grandparents (36% in Scotland and 31% in the UK as a whole). Including other sources of informal help such as neighbours, friends and other relatives, and the mother remaining responsible for the child while on the job, the vast majority of the arrangements were informal (71% in Scotland), although some of them were paid. Nurseries and crèches accounted for one sixth of all arrangements, and nannies, au pairs and child minders for one in eight. Mothers with full-time jobs were more likely to pay for child-care (54%) than those in part-time jobs (38%). Child-care tax credit reached 35% of those who paid for child-care in Scotland (compared to 49% in the UK as a whole). These estimates suggest that there could be room for expansion of the provision of formal child-care in Scotland, but there may be too few personnel qualified to care for children under the age of one.