Volume 37 - Article 26 | Pages 853–866  

Introduction to the Special Collection on Finding Work-Life Balance: History, Determinants, and Consequences of New Bread-Winning Models in the Industrialized World

By Trude Lappegård, Frances Goldscheider, Eva Bernhardt

This article is part of the Special Collection 20 "Finding Work‒Life Balance: History, Determinants, and Consequences of New Breadwinning Models in the Industrialized World"


Background: A wide range of new models for breadwinning and caregiving is emerging in the industrialized world. The massive increase in women’s labor force participation is bringing many women into the public sphere of men and many men into greater engagement with the private sphere. These are the two halves of the gender revolution, which have challenged the foundations of the concept of the separate spheres, although it is still a powerful model for couples in the 21st century.

Conclusions: Substantively, the papers in this special collection variously illustrate the tight linkage between the two halves of the gender revolution, with the second half reacting to the changes underway in the first half. The second half is progressing more slowly than the first half, and there is a gap between equal sharing of economic and domestic responsibilities in most countries. Theoretically, the cross-national analyses in particular demonstrate that structural differences – arising from public policies and economic forces that shape couples’ choices – are of greater importance than ideological differences. And methodologically, the special collection shows the importance of employing a wide range of lenses through which to study such a massive phenomenon, including detailed case studies and multi-level comparative studies.

Contribution: This special collection brings together new knowledge about this ongoing gender revolution, focusing on new models of finding work‒life balance. We illuminate the history and determinants of these changes in gendered labor force participation as well as their consequences for how couples organize their economic and family lives. In addition, we relate these changes to the ongoing gender revolution in the public and private spheres, which is transforming the relationships between men and women.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Attitudes toward work and parenthood following family-building transitions in Sweden: Identifying differences by gender and education
Volume 49 - Article 30

Domestic gender equality and childbearing in Sweden
Volume 29 - Article 40

Unemployment and fertility: The relationship between individual and aggregated unemployment and fertility during 1994–2014 in Norway
Volume 46 - Article 35

Parental leave policies and continued childbearing in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden
Volume 40 - Article 51

Can a cash transfer to families change fertility behaviour?
Volume 38 - Article 33

Division of housework and his and her view of housework fairness: A typology of Swedish couples
Volume 36 - Article 16

The forest and the trees: Industrialization, demographic change, and the ongoing gender revolution in Sweden and the United States, 1870-2010
Volume 36 - Article 6

The link between parenthood and partnership in contemporary Norway - Findings from focus group research
Volume 32 - Article 9

Towards a new understanding of cohabitation: Insights from focus group research across Europe and Australia
Volume 31 - Article 34

Reconciling studies of men’s gender attitudes and fertility: Response to Westoff and Higgins
Volume 22 - Article 8

Cohort fertility patterns in the Nordic countries
Volume 20 - Article 14

Sweden: Combining childbearing and gender equality
Volume 19 - Article 28

New fertility trends in Norway
Volume 2 - Article 3

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