Gender revolution, family reversals and fertility

Tomas Sobotka, Vienna Institute of Demography
Anna Matysiak, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU) and Warsaw School of Economics
Zuzanna Brzozowska, Vienna Institute of Demography and Warsaw School of Economics

During the last decade persistence of pronounced gender inequality in the domestic division of labour and childcare has been repeatedly linked to very low fertility rates. The debate on the links between gender equality and family change has become more elaborated in the three contributions published in 2015 in Population and Development Review (Anderson and Kohler 2015, Esping-Andersen and Billari 2015, Goldscheider et al. 2015)). These contributions share a broad view of an increase in gender equality over time from low to high levels being tightly linked with fertility change, first contributing to its decline, and then fostering its recovery at higher gender equality levels. Moreover, Esping-Andersen and Billari (2015) as well as Goldscheider et al. (2015) predict a strengthening of the family in gender equal societies, especially among the highly educated women. We outline and discuss weaknesses in the arguments and ideas on gender equality and family change, and propose a more thorough investigation of the links between domestic gender equality and family in different contexts. We argue that gender equality cannot be seen as the single dominant factor that can explain the changes in family and fertility, but it should rather be seen as a part of the “institutional package” that can either support higher fertility and stronger family or depress fertility to low levels. Specifically, we aim to: • Provide a systematic analysis of trends, reversals and education gradients in family behaviours, especially in marriage, fertility, and divorce in the selected group of countries; • Study the links between changes in family behaviours and changes in gender equality and investigate whether the observed patterns are in line with the hypotheses discussed in different contributions on the subject.

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 Presented in Session 43. Gender and fertility