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Cohort change, diffusion, and support for gender egalitarianism in cross-national perspective


  • Fred Pampel

    (University of Colorado Boulder)


Arguments about the spread of gender egalitarian values through a population highlight several sources of change. First, structural arguments point to increases in the proportion of women with high education, jobs with good pay, commitment to careers outside the family, and direct interests in gender equality. Second, value-shift arguments contend that gender norms change with economic affluence among women and men in diverse positions—at all levels of education, for example. Third, diffusion arguments suggest that structural changes lead to adoption of new ideas and values supportive of gender equality by innovative, high-education groups, but that the new ideas later diffuse to other groups. This study tests these arguments by using International Social Survey Program surveys in 1988, 1994, and 2002 for 19 nations to examine gender egalitarianism across 85 cohorts born from roughly 1900 to 1984. Multilevel models support diffusion arguments by demonstrating that the effects of education first strengthen with early adoption of gender egalitarianism and then weaken as other groups come to accept the same views. However, the evidence of a sequence of divergence and convergence in educational differences across cohorts appears most clearly for women in Western nations.

Suggested Citation

  • Fred Pampel, 2011. "Cohort change, diffusion, and support for gender egalitarianism in cross-national perspective," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(21), pages 667-694, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:25:y:2011:i:21

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. J. Scott Carter & Mamadi Corra & Shannon K. Carter, 2009. "The Interaction of Race and Gender: Changing Gender-Role Attitudes, 1974-2006," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(1), pages 196-211.
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    Cited by:

    1. Judith Treas & Jonathan Lui & Zoya Gubernskaya, 2014. "Attitudes on marriage and new relationships," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(54), pages 1495-1526, May.
    2. Evrim Altintas & Oriel Sullivan, 2016. "Fifty years of change updated: Cross-national gender convergence in housework," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(16), pages 455-470, August.
    3. repec:dem:demres:v:38:y:2018:i:35 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ausra Maslauskaite & Aiva Jasilioniene & Domantas Jasilionis & Vladislava Stankuniene & Vladimir M. Shkolnikov, 2015. "Socio-economic determinants of divorce in Lithuania: Evidence from register-based census-linked data," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 33(30), pages 871-908, October.

    More about this item


    cohort analysis; diffusion; education; gender; gender equality; ISSP;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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