Weak Support for a U-Shaped Pattern Between Societal Gender Equality and Fertility When Comparing Societies Across Time

Martin Kolk , Stockholm University

A number of recent theories in demography suggest a U-shaped relationship between gender equality and fertility. Fertility is theorized to be high in societies with low levels of gender equality, as well as societies with high gender equality, with lower fertility in a transition phase. This study estimates the relationship between gender equality (as operationalized through female political empowerment) and fertility within societies over time, using yearly information on gender equality and fertility for 35 countries. When examining societies across time there is no evidence of a U-shaped relationship between gender equality and fertility. In cross-sectional analyses for recent periods such a U-shaped relationship can be observed. For within-society analyses a negative relationship is clear at lower levels of gender equality, while no pattern can be observed in more gender equal societies. Theories that fertility would increase following increasing gender equality are not supported for changes over time within countries.

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 Presented in Session 37. Gender Inequality Over Place and Time