Negotiating the Life Course

Volume 1 of the series Life Course Research and Social Policies pp 9-33


The Second Demographic Transition Meets Globalization: A Comprehensive Theory to Understand Changes in Family Formation in an Era of Rising Uncertainty

  • Melinda MillsAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, University of Groningen Email author 
  • , Hans-Peter BlossfeldAffiliated withFakultät Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

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Since the late 1960s, there have been significant changes in partnership, fertility and family formation in many Western societies, first described in the concept of the second demographic transition (SDT). Since the 1980s, however, an additional series of broader transformations occurred, often termed globalization, which is characterized by increasingly volatile financial markets, accelerating speed of change and interdependence of networks. This chapter compares and contrasts the two large-scale heuristic frameworks of the SDT and globalization, with the goal of producing a more comprehensive theory to understand family formation and pathways to adulthood. We first define these two approaches, followed by a comparison of differences and overlapping features. We conclude with a critical reflection of the added-value of comparing and synthesizing the two approaches and provide suggestions for future extensions.