Volume 40 - Article 50 | Pages 1455–1500  

A new family equilibrium? Changing dynamics between the gender division of labor and fertility in Great Britain, 1991–2017

By Muzhi Zhou, Man-Yee Kan

Abstract

Background: There has recently been a heated debate about the relationship between gender equality and fertility. The macro-level relationship between female labor force participation and fertility has changed from negative to positive. At the micro level, a traditional gender role setting between spouses is still largely considered to be conducive to fertility.

Objective: How has the relationship between the couple-level gender division of labor and fertility changed over the last 26 years in Great Britain?

Methods: Data is from the harmonized Understanding Society and the British Household Panel Study. We first identify different levels of traditionalism in the division of labor by using latent class analysis. We then employ couple-level fixed-effect logistic regressions to analyze the reciprocal relationship between the gender division of labor and fertility.

Results: From 1991 to 2017, the positive, reciprocal association between the traditional division of labor and fertility has been significantly weakening over time. Couples are less likely to adopt the male-breadwinner model when they have more children, and couples who adopt the male-breadwinner model are no longer more likely to have a new child from 2009 onward.

Contribution: We take both spouses’ market work and domestic work and their combinations into account to measure the gender division of labor. This measurement and the use of fixed-effect regressions enable a comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the micro-level relationship between the division of labor and fertility. The time-varying association between the gendered division of labor and fertility provides important evidence of a changing family equilibrium in Britain. Egalitarian gender roles within a family are no longer a barrier to fertility.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Japanese adolescents' time use: The role of household income and parental education
Volume 44 - Article 9

The gender gap in the United States: Housework across racialized groups
Volume 43 - Article 36

Housework share and fertility preference in four East Asian countries in 2006 and 2012
Volume 41 - Article 35

Marriage in an immigrant society: Education and the transition to first marriage in Hong Kong
Volume 37 - Article 18

Domestic division of labour and fertility preference in China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan
Volume 36 - Article 18

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

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

Advanced or postponed motherhood? Migrants’ and natives’ gap between ideal and actual age at first birth in Spain
Volume 49 - Article 22    | Keywords: actual age at first birth, age at arrival, fertility, ideal age at first birth, international migration, motherhood, Spain

Describing the Dutch Social Networks and Fertility Study and how to process it
Volume 49 - Article 19    | Keywords: fertility, Netherlands, personal networks, social influence