Current research activities

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Coast, Dr Ernestina

The rise in cohabitation - pre-marital, non-marital and post-marital - represents one of the most significant changes in union formation patterns in many developed economies. In the US a limited number of studies have examined the effects of cohabitors' own assessments of their relationship on union outcomes. To date in the UK there are no studies of the effects of cohabiters' own expectations of their relationships on subsequent union transitions (to marriage, continued cohabitation, splitting up).

Using prospective data from the British Household Panel Study, recent research analyses individuals' relationship expectations and subsequent reported relationship behaviour. How do cohabiting relationship expectations differ by age, sex, previous relationship history and parenthood? For people in cohabiting relationships, how do attitudes towards cohabitation differ by age, sex, previous relationship history and parenthood? Do individuals achieve their relationship expectations? How do cohabiting couples' relationship expectations influence outcomes (marriage, separation, continued cohabitation)?

This research was funded by the ESRC as part of the "Understanding Population Trends and Processes Initiative" (|)

Outputs include:

Coast, E. (2007) "Relationship attitudes and intentions in the British Household Panel Survey" Paper presented at the BSPS Annual Conference, University of St Andrews, 11-13th September 2007 (see attached PPT).

PowerPoint presentation|


Lewis, Professor Jane

Jane Lewis is a member of three EU-funded research groups: a Coordinated Action on Social Quality and Changing Relationship between Work, Care and Welfare in Europe (WORKCARE), a Network on Civil Society and New Forms of Governance in Europe (CINEFOGO), and a Network on Reconciling Work and Welfare in Europe (RECWOWE). She is also a member of two UK ESRC-funded Networks: on the Social Contexts and Responses to Risk (SCARR) and on Gender Inequalities (GeNet). These projects take forward her work on both changing family forms and the changing nature of the contributions that men and women make to families. She is beginning some exploratory research with Anne West on computer-mediated communication among young adults.


Noden, Dr Philip

Philip Noden is undertaking research with Professor Anne West, funded by the Sutton Trust, examining at what types of school disadvantaged (FSM eligible) pupils are most likely to succeed academically.  The research will also examine the relationship between different temporal patterns of FSM eligibililty and academic progress.

Philip Noden and Anne West are also members of the team evaluating the UK Resiliency Programme for the Department of Children, Schools and Families.  The Resiliency Programme, which is being piloted in about 20 secondary schools, sets out to teach young people psychological techniques intended to reduce their vulnerability to mental health problems. Philip Noden is also undertaking exploratory work examining the parental division of leisure time.


Piachaud, Professor David

David Piachaud is working on child poverty - its causes and consequences and policies to tackle it.

Time is a dimension in understanding poverty that has been given little attention; he is working on time poverty as an aspect of poverty and the problem of taking account of time in measures of poverty.

How far should redistribution be effected directly through cash benefits or in kind and how far through services for children and parents? He is reviewing the relative merits of redistribution in different ways.

The British government have set a target to abolish child poverty but have shown little concern for economic inequality more widely. He is examining how far poverty can be addressed while not addressing inequality.


Sigle-Rushton, Dr Wendy

While visiting the Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Oslo, Wendy Sigle-Rushton worked with colleagues to produce a paper that uses data drawn from Norwegian population registers to examine the relationship between family disruption and children's educational outcomes. They distinguish between disruptions caused by parental divorce and paternal death and, using a simultaneous equation model, pay particular attention to selection bias in the effect of divorce. Results suggest that selection on time-invariant maternal characteristics is important and works to overstate the effects of divorce on a child's chances of continuing in education. Nevertheless, the experience of marital breakdown during childhood is associated with lower levels of education, and that the effect weakens with the child's age at disruption.

In work with John Hobcraft, Wendy Sigle-Rushton discusses the strengths and weaknesses of using of classification and regression trees to identify patterns of resilience linking childhood experiences to adult outcomes.


West, Professor Anne

Anne West's research focuses primarily on education policy. Research that is being carried out with Philip Noden, and funded by The Sutton Trust, is focusing on the educational achievement of children from low income families in different types of schools. Recent work has also examined the reasons why children from low income families tend to do less well at school. A further study examined the role of parents in the planning and setting up of new secondary schools. Exploratory research with Professor Jane Lewis is currently underway on the use of social network sites by higher education students.