Fertility variations in Scotland: geographical influences

21 May 2009

Scotland experiences relatively low fertility rates compared to the other countries in the UK. The rates also vary significantly within Scotland, with the highest fertility in 2003 being recorded in the Shetland Islands and the lowest in Edinburgh. Understanding why fertility varies geographically is important for both academic and policy-related reasons. Low fertility has implications for population ageing, labour supply and the costs of sustaining health and welfare services. Understanding more about the processes underpinning fertility variation is an important step in broadening our understanding of such population dynamics. This Briefing is the second based on findings from a recently completed research project that investigated the attitudes to fertility of men and women of child-bearing age in Scotland. A module was added to the 2005 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey in order to collect information on, among other things, fertility attitudes and how they relate to peer networks and the local context in which the respondents live. Here we provide some initial results which demonstrate the importance of local contexts to fertility decision-making