IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Gender Equity in Theories of Fertility Transition


  • Peter McDonald


Recent theoretical discussion has postulated that low fertility in advanced countries is attributable to low levels of gender equity. Low gender equity is evidenced in the lack of support for women to combine paid employment and childrearing; tax‐transfer systems that remain based on the male‐breadwinner model of the family; and the retention of gender‐oriented roles within the family. Hence, it is argued that an increase in gender equity is a precondition of a rise in fertility from very low levels. At the same time, theorists argue that, in less developed countries, higher levels of gender equity are a necessary condition for achieving lower fertility. The article addresses this apparent contradiction by distinguishing two types of gender equity: gender equity in individual‐oriented institutions and gender equity in family‐oriented institutions. The argument is made that the transition from very high fertility to replacement‐level fertility has been associated with a gradual increase in gender equity primarily within the family itself. In contrast, the further movement to very low fertility is associated with a rapid shift toward high levels of gender equity in individual institutions such as education and market employment, in combination with persistent low levels of gender equity within the family and in family‐oriented institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter McDonald, 2000. "Gender Equity in Theories of Fertility Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(3), pages 427-439, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:26:y:2000:i:3:p:427-439
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2000.00427.x

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:26:y:2000:i:3:p:427-439. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley Content Delivery). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.