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Datasets to help you celebrate Father’s Day

For some, Father’s Day, which this year falls on Sunday 21st June, is a day for honouring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. For others, it may just be a chance for dad to have a lie-in.

Social science researchers might also see it as an opportunity to explore some of the datasets relating to fatherhood and fathers that are held in the UK Data Service collection.

A good place to start is the Masculinities, Identities and Risk: Transition in the Lives of Men and Fathers, 2000-2009 study, a social psychological investigation into transition and change in the lives of men as first-time fathers.

Part of the Timescapes study – a major ESRC qualitative longitudinal study looking at how personal and family relationships develop and change over time – the research sought to explore ways in which men interpret and account for their experiences of becoming a first-time father and any transformations this brings to bear on their identities, relationships and lives over time.

To shed light on critical turning points in men’s life histories and on the meaning and significance of biographical change, a carefully crafted qualitative longitudinal dataset involving 46 participants was generated and analysed.

a father swinging two children by his arms on a beach during sunset
Photo by Jude Beck

To what extent fathers play a role in rearing young children is the subject of an Exploring paternal involvement in childcare using Millennium Cohort Study data held in the UK Data Service Collection.

Previous research has found that mothers’ employment hours have a strong association with paternal involvement: if the mother worked full-time both nine months and three years after the child’s birth then the father was more likely to be an involved parent when the child was aged three. This research project builds on this analysis, using the Millennium Cohort Study, by developing more measures of paternal involvement in childcare to establish which employment and socio-demographic characteristics shape paternal involvement as children age from nine months to eleven years old.

It is interesting for researchers to note that this study made use of the Millennium Cohort Study and highlights how using pre-existing data resources for secondary analysis can complement your own research.

Researchers can also find data on the number of male lone parent households in the UK from the census data while another dataset held in the Services’ collection – the sample survey from the Non Resident Fathers, 1996 study – aimed to investigate the circumstances of fathers in Britain who do not live with their children.

Containing more than 600 interview responses, the study explored respondents’ physical, financial and affective relationships with their former partner and non resident children, and also their feelings about their rights and responsibilities as fathers and the opportunities and constraints surrounding their relationship.

For a historical perspective on fatherhood, try the qualitative data collection Fatherhood across Generations in Polish, Irish and White British Families, 1920-2010.

This comparative study focuses on fatherhood in 30 chains of biologically related men: grandfathers who form the oldest generation, fathers who form the middle generation, and sons aged 5 to 18 who form the youngest generation. The data collection addresses a number of key research questions, such as how do men from different generations and ‘ethnic’ groups understand fatherhood and ‘do’ fathering?; how is fatherhood changing?; and what are the influences of migration on fatherhood?

The data collection thereby contributes to debates about fatherhood and family processes, and to policy concerns about migration and, in the context of increased longevity, intergenerational transfers and relations.

Here’s hoping all fathers have a happy Father’s Day this Sunday.