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The Unfolding Story of the Second Demographic Transition


  • Ron Lesthaeghe


This article presents a narrative of the unfolding of the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) since the theory was first formulated in 1986. The first part recapitulates the foundations of the theory, and documents the spread of the SDT to the point that it now covers most European populations. Also for Europe, it focuses on the relationship between the SDT and the growing heterogeneity in period fertility levels. It is shown that the current positive relationship between SDT and TFR levels is not a violation of the SDT theory, but the outcome of a "split correlation" with different sub-narratives concerning the onset of fertility postponement and the degree of subsequent recuperation in two parts of Europe. The second part of the article addresses the issue of whether the SDT has spread or is currently spreading in industrialized Asian countries. Evidence gathered for Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan is presented. That evidence pertains to both the macro-level (national trends in postponement of marriage and parenthood, rise of cohabitation) and the micro-level (connections between individual values orientations and postponement of parenthood). Strong similarities are found with SDT patterns in Southern Europe, except for the fact that parenthood is still very rare among Asian cohabiting partners. Copyright (c) 2010 The Population Council, Inc..

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  • Ron Lesthaeghe, 2010. "The Unfolding Story of the Second Demographic Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(2), pages 211-251.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:36:y:2010:i:2:p:211-251

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sobotka, Tomáš, 2002. "Ten years of rapid fertility changes in the European post-communist countries. Evidence and interpretation," Research Reports 02-01, University of Groningen, Population Research Centre (PRC).
    2. Tomás Sobotka, 2004. "Is Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe Explained by the Postponement of Childbearing?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(2), pages 195-220.
    3. FFF1Vladimíra NNN1Kantorová, 2004. "Education and Entry into Motherhood: The Czech Republic during State Socialism and the Transition Period (1970-1997)," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(10), pages 245-274, April.
    4. Ron J. Lesthaeghe & Lisa Neidert, 2006. "The Second Demographic Transition in the United States: Exception or Textbook Example?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 32(4), pages 669-698.
    5. James M. Raymo & Miho Iwasawa & Larry Bumpass, 2008. "Cohabitation and Family Formation in Japan," ISER Discussion Paper 0714, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    6. Tomas Frejka & Gérard Calot, 2001. "Cohort Reproductive Patterns in Low-Fertility Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 103-132.
    7. repec:dgr:rugprc:02-01 is not listed on IDEAS
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