Changing families and the gender revolution

This project studies changes in unions, couple specialization and fertility as well as the interaction between the three. Who establish them self in unions and who becomes partner with whom influence couple specialization in the family. This may influence fertility which may influence couple specialization. Analysis of union formation is important for analysis of couple specialization and fertility.

Project details

Project manager
Trude Lappegård

Hege Kitterød, ISF


The Research Council of Norway (236926)

Project term
1 January 2015-31 December 2018
Project status
Research field

About the Project

The point of departure for the project is three profound changes sweeping across modern societies: women surpassing men in higher education, growing female labour force participation and more involved men in the family.

This gender revolution influences the family formation process and is moving at different paces across countries, which calls for comparative research on the interplay between gender roles and the family formation process.

The project has a strong international profile and we apply an analytical approach where the family formation process involves different components:

(A) union formation,

(B) couple specialization, and

(C) childbearing.

This novel approach takes into account that the family formation process contains several components that influence each other: who enters unions and who partner with whom influence couple specialization and the relative economic position of men and women, which in turn influence childbearing, which may very well in return influence couple specialization. 

Union formation patterns are also expected to influence childbearing directly. We argue that it is necessary to include the union formation process in analyses of couple specialization and childbearing because it determines the socioeconomic correlates of selection into unions, as well as how socioeconomic characteristics affect choice of union. 

Theoretical development within the field

We aim of theoretical development within this field. While several theoretical frameworks have been developed to understand the interplay of new gender roles and family behaviour at societal level, there is need for more theories to better understand the mechanisms at the individual level. The design of our planned studies requires large-scale data that allows for longitudinal approaches and long time-series, as well as data made available for cross-country comparison. Register data will be used for the in-depth analyses of Norway, while survey data will be used for the comparative analyses. 


Wiik, Kenneth Aarskaug and Jennifer Holland. 2015. «Partner choice and timing of first marriage among children of immigrants in Norway and Sweden». Discussion Paper #810, Statistics Norway.

Goldscheider, Frances, Eva Bernhardt and Trude Lappegård. 2015. «The Gender Revolution: Theoretical Framework for Understanding New Family-Demographic Behavior». Population and Development Review 41(2): 207-239.