Religiosity, gender attitudes and women’s labour market participation and fertility decisions in Europe

TitleReligiosity, gender attitudes and women’s labour market participation and fertility decisions in Europe
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsGuetto, Raffaele, Luijkx, Ruud, and Scherer, Stefani
JournalActa Sociologica
Pagination155 - 172
Date Published2015///
Keywordsfemale labor market participation, fertility, gender, religiosity, Second Demographic Transition

The Second Demographic Transition (SDT) theory underlines the importance of changing values and attitudes to explain the trend toward low fertility and raising female labor market participation. We contribute to this debate comparing religiosity and gender attitudes over several European countries using three waves of the European Values Study (1990, 1999 and 2008). By dealing with the issues of measurement invariance and endogeneity between values and behaviour, our results support some critiques of the SDT theory. The pace of the process of sociocultural change has not been the same across European countries and the forerunners of the SDT, that is, the most secularized and gender-egalitarian societies, now have the highest female labor market participation rates and the highest fertility. We provide evidence for a ‘macro–micro paradox’ regarding the role of values on family behaviours. Religiosity is positively correlated with fertility and housewifery, while gender attitudes are only correlated with women’s labor market decisions. These correlations are stronger in more traditional countries, even if aggregate fertility is lower. We stress the necessity to integrate cultural and structural explanations, suggesting the lack of family policies and the rigidity of the family formation process as possible mechanisms to unravel this paradox.