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

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 will evaluate the current evidence base on fathers, provide an updated overview of what is known, identify some of the major gaps and make recommendations about data improvement.

Project details



Adrienne Burgess, Fatherhood Institute

Rebecca Goldman, Independent Researcher

Dr. Jeremy Davies, Fatherhood Institute

Advisors include Professor Wendy Sigle-Rushton, Gender Institute, LSE

Funding Programme

Children and Families

Grant Amount and Dates


January 2014 - December 2017

Project website



Do research datasets take into account family diversity? By Rebecca Goldman, p.8 of SRA Research Matters, March 2017