"Gender Inequality and Fertility: A Cpm[arative Analysis of Europe and East Asia"
Very low fertility is one of the most important demographic phenomena characterizing the postindustrial world in the early 21st century. Many parts of Europe and all of East Asia now exhibit total fertility rates that are considerably below replacement level, and demographers are engaged in debates about whether these rates are likely to continue or to recover to near-replacement levels. This paper considers the cultural and institutional correlates of very low fertility, with particular attention to gender-role attitudes that emphasize men’s and women’s distinct social roles and to labor market institutions that privilege male breadwinners. I illustrate the theoretical framework by drawing on low-fertility examples from Southern Europe (Spain and Italy) and East Asia (Japan and South Korea). In-depth interviews in Spain and Japan demonstrate the similarities between Southern Europe and East Asia but also suggest important ways that fertility in these two regions may diverge in the future.
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