Gender Equity and Fertility Intentions in “Lowest-Low” Fertility Settings: The Case of South Korea

Mary Brinton, Harvard University
Eunsil Oh, Harvard University

Gender equity is a major theme in studies of comparative fertility. We reexamine the hypotheses generated by gender equity theory and argue that empirical studies to date have not fully articulated the link between the macro-level of the economy and the micro-level of the household. Using data from structured in-depth interviews of nearly 100 young adults in South Korea, a society characterized by high gender equity in educational attainment and very low aggregate fertility, we examine whether husbands and wives with more egalitarian gender-role attitudes and household behaviors are more or less likely than their gender-role conservative counterparts to have aspirations and intentions for a second- or higher-order birth. Our preliminary findings suggest a more complex relationship than previously theorized between gender equity in the public and private spheres, especially in settings such as Korea that are characterized by labor market institutions that prioritize male breadwinners.

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Presented in Session 124: Low Fertility and Childlessness