Reformulating Second Demographic Transition Theory

Elwood Carlson, Florida State University

A second demographic transition cannot be defined as a uniform package of attitudinal and behavioral outcomes because such outcomes vary independently of one another. It cannot be defined by reference to one specific stratum of society because it appears in different social groups in different contexts. Sweden illustrates a mixed type of second demographic transition, with a retreat from marriage concentrating among the least-educated while dispersion of childbearing outside marriage concentrates among the most-educated. The first demographic transition accompanied the erosion of kin-based lineages, reducing the social significance of the consanguine dimension of the family, while the second demographic transition accompanies an orthogonal shift in this erosion of family bonds, a reduction of the social significance of the affinal dimension of the family represented by formal marriage. Ascribed status in the intimate personal relationships between men and women gives way to competitively negotiated social contracts between them.

Presented in Session 41: Global Family Change