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Title:Fertility attitudes and behavior: the effects of gender equity on fertility in South Korea
Author(s):Yoon, Soo-Yeon
Director of Research:Zerai, Assata
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Zerai, Assata; Leicht, Kevin
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Liao, Tim F.; Allendorf, Keera
Department / Program:Sociology
Discipline:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Low fertility
Gender equality
Gender equity
Family policy
Marital relationship
Marital quality
Welfare state
South Korea
Abstract:This dissertation examines the roles of gender equity and family in shaping lowest-low fertility. Although low fertility is a heated topic in most advanced societies, conventional approaches to low fertility, such as the second demographic transition theory, have predominantly focused on low fertility in Western countries. Recent literature on low fertility demonstrates that gender equity plays an important role in understanding cross-national variations in low fertility. This project uses South Korea to examine issues of low fertility and its association with the role of family and gender equity. South Korea is marked by low institutional gender equity, a strong normative focus idealizing the two-child family and extremely low fertility. In order to integrate the case of South Korea as critical to a theoretical understanding of the impact of gender equity, this dissertation explores the ways in which women shape their fertility intentions and actual fertility in relation to gender equity. Using data from the three waves of the Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women & Families, I examined the intersection of low fertility, marriage, and family with an emphasis on the role of gender equity in explaining lowest-low fertility in South Korea. In examining four aspects of gender equity in the family, my findings suggest that South Korean women with traditional gender role attitudes may face high levels of pressure to fulfill their expected roles in the family, including raising a high-quality child, with no or little support from husbands and institutions. Moreover, my findings suggest that women’s positive interactions with their husbands, based on the sharing of housework and childcare or educational responsibility for their children, provide favorable conditions for women’s marital quality. My analysis emphasizes that having a second child is likely to be a constrained choice dependent on supportive environments for the family. The availability of tangible support from multiple sources may determine the gap between fertility intentions and fertility behavior, especially in contexts where two-child family ideals are still pervasive. I have brought a new perspective to the growing body of literature on low fertility, a perspective that is especially suited to cultural contexts in which high educational aspirations and the traditional family model are pervasive. This research makes two main contributions to the literature on gender and low fertility. First, it demonstrates the mechanisms through which gender equity in the family shapes women’s marriage and fertility, both in terms of women’s fertility behavior and realizing their fertility intentions. Second, it offers new insights on the interplay between the state and the family in achieving family demands, including work-family balance and having an additional child. It further increases our understanding of the different contexts that are revealed in a rapid fertility decline, lowest-low fertility, low gender equity regimes, and weak institutional support for childrearing.
Issue Date:2017-04-18
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/97585
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Soo-Yeon Yoon
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05


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