Research Group

Gender Inequalities and Fertility

At a Glance Projects Publications Team

Detailed Description


Gender is more than an individual attribute allowing demographers to describe how people differ in biological sex. Gender is pervasive in social institutions, such as the family, the labor market, the economy, and society at large. Gender inequalities remain embedded in contemporary societies despite being less visible in formal institutions such as laws. They manifest themselves in unequal opportunities and constraints linked to biological sex. 

Yet, demographic research, particularly in the area of studying fertility and family change across cohorts, time and space, tends to focus on women only. When gender differences are addressed, attention to gender inequalities is often lacking. Overlooking the tenacity of inequalities between women and men hampers demography to make a leap forward in understanding how and why increased family complexity affects the life courses of women and men differently and ultimately shapes contemporary population change.

The Research Group on Gender Inequalities and Fertility, funded by the Max Planck Society, systematically incorporates gender inequalities into the study of demographic processes underlying contemporary family complexity: union dissolution and repartnering, alternatives to marriage, births outside marriage and with consecutive partners, stepfamilies and other complex family structures. The research conducted in this group reveals how and under which conditions gender inequalities are produced and reproduced within individuals, couples and families and the social institutions in which they are embedded.

The group has three main objectives:

  • Advancing demographic theory by crossing disciplinary boundaries and integrating concepts and theoretical frameworks addressing gender and gender inequalities into demographic research.
  • Bringing gender inequalities to the core of demographic analysis by revealing the mechanisms that explain how gender inequalities both determine and result from demographic trends and patterns contributing to family complexity.
  • Acknowledging the social and cultural context of how gender inequalities manifest themselves by drawing particular attention to the context-specific meaning attached to a similar (demographic) behavior.
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.