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Mary Brinton, Professor, Harvard University

Gender Inequality and Fertility: A Comparative Analysis of Europe and East Asia
When Nov 07, 2016
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 1101 Morrill Hall
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Presentation

Very low fertility is one of the most important demographic phenomena characterizing the postindustrial world in the early 21st century. Many parts of Europe and all of East Asia now exhibit total fertility rates that are considerably below replacement level, and demographers are engaged in debates about whether these rates are likely to continue or to recover to near-replacement levels. This paper considers the cultural and institutional correlates of very low fertility, with particular attention to gender-role attitudes that emphasize men’s and women’s distinct social roles and to labor market institutions that privilege male breadwinners. I illustrate the theoretical framework by drawing on low-fertility examples from Southern Europe (Spain and Italy) and East Asia (Japan and South Korea). In-depth interviews in Spain and Japan demonstrate the similarities between Southern Europe and East Asia but also suggest important ways that fertility in these two regions may diverge in the future.

About the Speaker

portrait of mary c brinton

Mary C. Brinton is Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. Brinton received her PhD from the University of Washington, and taught at the University of Chicago and Cornell University before moving to Harvard in 2003. At Harvard, she served as chair of the Department of Sociology from 2010 to 2016. Brinton’s research interests are in labor markets and gender inequality, and she is a specialist on Japanese society. She has published extensively on gender inequality in Japan and in East Asia more broadly. Her book Lost in Transition: Youth, Work, and Instability in Postindustrial Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2011) was awarded the John Whitney Hall Book Prize by the Association for Asian Studies for distinguished contributions to the study of Japanese society. Brinton’s current work focuses on why East Asia, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe now exhibit historically low fertility rates that are leading to rapid population aging and the specter of lowered economic productivity. She is leading an international team of collaborators in a five-country comparative study of gender equality and fertility, utilizing survey data and original in-depth interviews with young urban adults in each country.

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