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CASE Social Exclusion Seminars

CASE

Fertility and the two-child limit: does cutting child benefits really affect fertility?

Mary Reader (CASE, LSE), Jonathan Portes (King’s College London), Ruth Patrick (University of York), Kate Andersen (University of York)

Wednesday 15 June 2022 16:30 - 18:00

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Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.


About this event

The two-child limit, introduced by the UK government from April 2017, restricts means-tested child-related social security support to the first two children in a household. It aimed to “to ensure that families in receipt of benefits face the same financial choices about having children as those supporting themselves solely in work”. This seminar will present findings from the Benefit Changes and Larger Families project, which employs mixed methods to explore how the policy has affected families’ decision-making around fertility, and whether this has resulted in a decline in third and subsequent births. Our quantitative results, using administrative birth records and household survey data, show that the two-child limit led to only a small decline in fertility among those households directly affected. Our qualitative longitudinal research helps to explain some of this effect, unpicking the mismatch between the assumptions behind the policy and the lived realities of fertility decision-making. We conclude by reflecting on the implications of these findings, in particular the implication that the main impact of the policy has been to reduce incomes among larger families who are already living on a low income, and hence to increase poverty.