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CASE Social Exclusion Seminars


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

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

Wednesday 15 June 2022 16:30 - 18:00

This event is both online and in person

SAL 1.04, 1st Floor Conference Room, Sir Arthur Lewis Building, LSE, 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH

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.

Listen to a recording of the event:

These seminars are held on Wednesdays in term time at 12:00-13:00

Seminars this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @CASE_LSE for updates.

This seminar series is organised by:

Laura Lane, Email:

Dr Abigail McKnight, Email:

For further information and papers, when available, please contact:

The CASE team Email: