Journal Article

The gender revolution: A framework for understanding changing family and demographic behavior

This article argues that the trends normally linked with the second demographic transition (SDT) may be reversed as the gender revolution enters its second half by including men more centrally in the family. We develop a theoretical argument about the emerging consequences of this stage of the gender revolution and review research results that bear on it. The argument compares the determinants and consequences of recent family trends in industrialized societies provided by two narratives: the SDT and the gender revolution in the public and private spheres. Our argument examines differences in theoretical foundations and positive vs. negative implications for the future. We focus primarily on the growing evidence for turnarounds in the relationships between measures of women's human capital and union formation, fertility, and union dissolution, and consider evidence that men's home involvement increases union formation and fertility and decreases union instability. Although the family trends underlying the SDT and the gender revolution narratives are ongoing and a convincing view of the phenomenon has not yet emerged, the wide range of recent research results documenting changing, even reversing relationships suggests that the gender approach is increasingly the more fruitful one.