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Fathers in the UK: What do we know? What do we need to know?

Researchers: Adrienne Burgess | Rebecca Goldman ...

Project overview

This study takes stock of the current research and data on fathers in the UK with a view to providing a balanced assessment of what is known, as well as to highlight major gaps and opportunities for secondary analysis using major public data sets.  It complements a recent secondary analysis on Modern Fatherhood led by the ESRC and updates and extends an earlier review of research on Fathers and Fatherhood published in 1997.

Over recent decades, the nature and expectations of fatherhood have changed considerably.  While retaining a focus on breadwinning, public narratives emphasise the involved father as the ideal.  But at the same time significant demographic change, including the increased prevalence of parental separation and divorce, mean that parenting relationships need to be negotiated across household boundaries.  The project has evaluated the current evidence base on fathers, and provides an updated overview of what is known, identifies some of the major gaps and makes recommendations about data improvement.

A series of reports, Contemporary Fathers in the UK, are being published by the Fatherhood Institute and will be available at

In undertaking this project The Fatherhood Institute has also created a comprehensive literature library of mainly academic articles, book chapters and reports about fathers and fatherhood in the UK from 1998 to 2017.

Latest on this project


  • Adrienne Burgess
    Fatherhood Institute
  • Rebecca Goldman
    Independent Researcher
  • Dr. Jeremy Davies
    Fatherhood Institute

  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Programme Head, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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