The second half of the gender revolution and fertility

Tomas Frejka, Independent Consultant
Fran Goldscheider, University of Maryland and Brown University
Trude Lappegård, Statistics Norway

This research aims to establish whether there are nascent characteristics of fertility increasing in countries where the gender revolution (GR) is most advanced, as formulated in “The Gender Revolution: A Framework for Understanding Changing Family and Demographic Behavior” by Goldscheider, Bernhardt and Lappegård (2015). Thus far there is no clear indication of a fertility increase in countries with an advanced GR. Cohort total fertility rates (CTFRs) were declining among women born during the 1950s and 1960s, and shares of women with low parity births were increasing. These findings put into doubt the argumentation that fertility reversals have started to take place. Two other findings, however, are noteworthy. One, CTFRs of women born around 1970 in GR countries are around the replacement level and they are among the highest in the developed countries. Two, there are indications that fertility trends in GR countries are stabilizing. Age patterns of childbearing were no longer changing among late 1970s and 1980s birth cohorts. And estimates of the CTFRs of early and mid-1980s birth cohorts were similar to CTFRs of women born around 1970 in GR countries. These two findings can be interpreted as the GR being associated with a stabilization of fertility trends close to the replacement level. – Our investigation will also evaluate the claim that there is evidence of a fertility effect of an increase in ‘gender equity’ early in the 20th century in several countries made in a paper by Anderson and Kohler (2015). This narrative is not consistent with most theories of the GR that consider the entry of growing shares of married women into the public sphere as the beginning of the GR around the 1960s. We will also explore whether a positive relationship between gender equity and childbearing is confirmed for cohort fertility in Nordic and other countries.

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Presented in Session 43: Gender and fertility