Gender Equality and Fertility: Which Equality Matters?

Egalité de genre et fécondité : de quelle égalité s’agit-il?
  • Gerda NeyerEmail author
  • Trude Lappegård
  • Daniele Vignoli


Does gender equality matter for fertility? Demographic findings on this issue are rather inconclusive. We argue that one reason for this is that the complexity of the concept of gender equality has received insufficient attention. Gender equality needs to be conceptualized in a manner that goes beyond perceiving it as mere “sameness of distribution”. It needs to include notions of gender equity and thus to allow for distinguishing between gender difference and gender inequality. We sketch three dimensions of gender equality related to employment, financial resources, and family work, which incorporate this understanding: (1) the ability to maintain a household; (2) agency and the capability to choose; and (3) gender equity in household and care work. We explore their impact on childbearing intentions of women and men using the European Generations and Gender Surveys. Our results confirm the need for a more nuanced notion of gender equality in studies on the relationship between gender equality on fertility. They show that there is no uniform effect of gender equality on childbearing intentions, but that the impact varies by gender and by parity.


Gender equality Fertility Childbearing Intentions Europe Men 


L’égalité de genre a-t-elle un impact sur la fécondité ? Les résultats des études démographiques sont peu concluants. Nous soutenons qu’une des raisons de cette incertitude est l’insuffisance de prise en compte de la complexité du concept d’égalité de genre. L’égalité de genre doit être conceptualisée de manière à dépasser la perception d’une simple distribution égalitaire. Cette conceptualisation doit permettre de distinguer entre les différences selon le genre et les inégalités de genre et donc inclure la notion d’équité de genre. Dans le but d’illustrer cette approche, nous esquissons trois dimensions de l’égalité de genre en relation avec l’emploi, les ressources financières et les tâches domestiques qui intègrent cette approche : (1) la capacité à soutenir le ménage (2) la possibilité d’agir et la capacité de choisir (3) l’équité de genre dans les tâches domestiques et de soins. Nous étudions leur impact sur les intentions des hommes et des femmes d’avoir des enfants à partir des données des enquêtes européennes Genre et Génération. Nos résultats confirment la nécessité d’une approche plus nuancée de la notion d’égalité de genre. Ils montrent qu’il n’y a pas un effet uniforme de l’égalité de genre sur les intentions de procréation mais que l’impact varie, selon le sexe et la parité, en fonction de la dimension d’égalité de genre évaluée.


Égalité de genre Fécondité Procréation Intentions Europe Hommes 



We thank Dorothea Rieck for assisting in the preparation of the data, Irina Badurashvili for information on the Georgian society and for explaining the Georgian family and fertility behavior to us, and Gunnar Andersson, two anonymous reviewers, and the editors of the European Journal of Population for their comments on an earlier version of the paper. Special appreciation goes to Jan Hoem for comments, discussions, and editorial advice. We also thank the participants of the section “Low fertility in comparative perspectives” of the Population Association of America Annual Meeting 2010 (Dallas). This work was supported by the Linnaeus Center on Social Policy and Family Dynamics in Europe (SPaDE), Grant 349-2007-8701 of the Swedish Research Council and by the Research Council of Norway (202442/S20).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerda Neyer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Trude Lappegård
    • 2
  • Daniele Vignoli
    • 3
  1. 1.Demography Unit, Department of SociologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Research DepartmentStatistics NorwayOsloNorway
  3. 3.DiSIA—Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni “G. Parenti”University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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