Lowest-Low Fertility: A Theory of Normative Rigidity and Economic Context


Thursday, September 13, 2012, 11:40am to 1:00pm


WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, T-102

Mary Brinton, Reischauer Institute, Professor of Sociology and Department Chair, Harvard University

Establishing greater gender equity in market work and in households is a shared goal for many postindustrial democracies. The logic behind this goal often stems from fairness concerns. This paper examines the issue from a demographic angle and examines the relationship between gender equity and fertility in postindustrial societies. We show that many of the societies currently experiencing what demographers term “lowest-low” fertility are precisely those where the gender-role revolution has stalled and where gender inequality remains high. In this sense, gender inequality in the 21st century can be considered a contributor to the negative population outcome of below-replacement fertility. This practical implication gives further impetus for movement towards greater gender equity.

See also: Health