Volume 27 - Article 16 | Pages 429–454  

Like daughter, like son? Fertility decline and the transformation of gender systems in the family

By Keera Allendorf

Abstract

Background: An important question for population research is whether fertility decline transforms gender systems.

Objective: This paper contributes to answering this broad question by examining how fertility decline may change the relative value and roles of daughters versus sons in families. First, I outline theoretical pathways, suggesting that a key factor is the gender composition of families. As fertility declines, the proportion of families with children of only one gender increases, which may facilitate greater gender symmetry between daughters and sons. Second, I explore how fertility decline may be transforming the relative value and roles of sons and daughters in practice in one place.

Methods: The analysis draws primarily on semi-structured interviews with 30 respondents living in one Indian village.

Results: In recent decades, fertility has declined to at least replacement levels. Respondents also perceive changes in the gender system, including less son preference, more equal schooling for sons and daughters, more freedom in marriage and pre-marital relationships, and perhaps greater daughter support of parents in old age.

Conclusions: The results describe changes in the relative value, treatment, and behavior of sons and daughters that are consistent with the theorized effects of fertility decline. Future research is needed, however, to determine whether fertility decline makes a unique causal contribution to changes in the gender system.

Author's Affiliation

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Cohort fertility of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union
Volume 50 - Article 13    | Keywords: age at first birth, assimilation, cohort analysis, fertility, immigration, parity, religiosity

Fertility decline, changes in age structure, and the potential for demographic dividends: A global analysis
Volume 50 - Article 9    | Keywords: age structure, demographic dividend, demographic transition, fertility, migration, population momentum, working-age population

Analyzing hyperstable population models
Volume 49 - Article 37    | Keywords: birth trajectory, cohort analysis, cyclical populations, dynamic population model, fertility, hyperstable, period

Ultra-Orthodox fertility and marriage in the United States: Evidence from the American Community Survey
Volume 49 - Article 29    | Keywords: age at first marriage, American Community Survey (ACS), fertility, Judaism, marriage, religion, total fertility rate (TFR), Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Partnership satisfaction in Czechia during the COVID-19 pandemic
Volume 49 - Article 24    | Keywords: COVID-19, family, pandemic, partnership, separation

Cited References: 36

Download to Citation Manager

PubMed

Google Scholar

Volume
Page
Volume
Article ID