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More Gender Equality, Lower Fertility?

In recent years, academics have posited an incredibly seductive theory: There's a “U-shaped curve” depicting the relationship between gender equality and fertility. As societies become more equal, fertility falls at first—presumably because women are no longer boxed into domestic roles. But eventually, the relationship turns around, and advances in gender equality actually boost fertility. This is presumably because women are willing to have more kids in a society that helps them out. In other words, at this point in the developed world's history, feminism is supposed to be the path to higher fertility. A new working paper from the sociologist Martin Kolk, published in the Stockholm Research Reports in the Demography series, though, weakens this narrative considerably. Read More

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