Societal Gender Relations and Fertility

Content and goals

The idea that fertility patterns over time are a U-shaped function of societal gender relations has gained growing interest in recent years: once gender relations moved away from the male breadwinner model, fertility decreased. That is to say, more gender equality meant less fertility. After a certain threshold is surpassed, the gender equity-fertility nexus changes its direction: more gender equality or gender equity means more fertility (e.g. McDonald, 2000b, 2000a; Esping-Andersen, 2009; Esping- Andersen & Billari, 2015; Goldscheider, Bernhardt, & Lappegård, 2015). While these authors provide important contributions to the formulation of broad theoretical frameworks that link changing gender roles with changes in demographic behaviour, there is little empirical evidence.

The project aims at disentangling the mechanisms that link societal gender relations to fertility.

Based on the theoretical work by Esping-Andersen and Billari (2015) the project argues that the degree of societal variation in realized gender roles and gender role attitudes explains the link between gender relations and fertility. A great variation in attitudes among potential partners causes uncertainty and conflicts, which decreases people’s propensity to choose to have a first or additional child. This hypothesis will be tested on the societal- as well as the couple-level.


Ansgar hudde was employed by the Professorship of Demography and held a stipend by the Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under the German Excellence Initiative (GSC1024).


Working Papers:

  • Hudde, Ansgar (2016): Fertility Is Low When There Is No Societal Agreement on a Specific Gender Role Model, University of Bamberg Demographic Discussion Papers, No. 18/2016. (link(2.6 MB))

Work in Progress:

  • (with Henriette Engelhardt-Wölfler) „Intra-Couple Disagreement on Gender Role Attitudes and Fertility Decisions”


Colloquium for Familiy Research at the State Institute for Family Research, Bamberg

European Population Conference (EPC) on "Demographic Change and Policy Implications", Mainz

Annual BAGSS Conference (ABC) on “When the state intervenes”, Bamberg

2nd Human Fertility Database Symposium on "Population-level fertility research: State of the art", Berlin

Annual Meeting of the German Demographic Society (DGD) on “Current National and International Challenges in Demography”, Leipzig

Education and Reproduction in Low Fertility Settings (EDUREP), Vienna


Best Paper Award for the work "Fertility is Low When There is No Societal Agreement on a Specific Gender Role Model" at the 3rd Annual BAGSS Conference. Prize: 500€