Will strong families return? Family welfare and the incomplete gender revolution

Prof. Gosta Esping-Andersen , Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Why has fertility and marital stability risen in exactly those countries where the female revolution has advanced the most? And why do we register a dramatically changing social gradient of both childbearing and divorce? Both trends contradict Gary Becker’s and also the post-modernist projections of family change. I apply a multiple equilibrium framework to argue that strong families will return once a new gender symmetric family equilibrium begins to gain dominant normative status. Since this new equilibrium is very much spearheaded by higher educated couples, this is why we observe a reversal in the social gradients of fertility and divorce. The implication is, furthermore, that very low fertility and marital instability are manifestations of widespread unstable equilibria that emerge when the traditional family model erodes. Contemporary demographers highlight the importance of women-friendly social policies as a means for fertility recovery. In my framework, such policies are endogenous to the revolution of women’s roles. The real key lies in male adaptation.

About the speaker
Prof. Gosta Esping-Andersen is professor of Sociology at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra where he directs the DEMOSOC research unit. In 2009 he was nominated ICREA-Academia professor. Born in Denmark, he studied demography, economics and sociology at Copenhagen University and at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he received his PhD. His scientific work centres on life course dynamics, social stratification and comparative social policy. Before going to Pompeu Fabra, he taught at Harvard University, the University of Trento and the European University in Italy. His publications include The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism for which he was awarded the APSA’s Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award in 2005; The Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies ; and, most recently, Trois Lecons sur L’Etat Providence. His later book is The incomplete revolution. He is a member of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Doctor Honoris Causa at Roskilde University. He is member of the scientific board of numerous scientific institutions including the Danish National Institute for Social Research, the CEACS of the Juan March Institute, IMDEA, and the Danish Strategic Research Council. He has been actively engaged in applied policy relevant work for international organizations, including the United Nations, the OECD, ISSA, and the European Union. He participated in the preparation for the EU’s Lisbon Summit in 2000 and co-authored a report on welfare state reform for the Belgian presidency of the EU in 2002. He has also been member of EU President Baroso’s social policy advisory group. He is currently directing a five-year ERC financed project on Family Polarization and Demographic Change. He has been a guest lecturer at Maastricht Graduate School of Governance.

Venue: Conference Room

Date: 28 June 2012

Time: 10:00 - 11:00


UNU-MERIT