The first demographic transition changed the face of the western world as thoroughly as did the Industrial Revolution. As couples began to have fewer children, women were released from the heavy burden of endless pregnancies and extended periods of child care. Even though this profound process of change has been extensively researched, women were rarely pictured as decision-makers concerning fertility and family. Moreover, men and women were mostly not perceived as having potentially differing interests in sexuality and child-bearing. This volume contains papers delivered at the conference Were Women Present at the Demographic Transition? which was held at the Radboud University Nijmegen, 20-21 May 2005. The contributions throw light on the active role women played in the fertility decline as well as on the complex process of decision-making between husbands and wives.
Women, work and the demographic transition in the Netherlands, 1880–1960
Labouring Lives unravels the huge changes which have so fundamentally altered the life courses of ordinary women over the past one hundred and fifty years, namely the changes in marriage and fertility patterns. Using dynamic data from Dutch population registers and analytical techniques from the life course approach, the book offers new evidence on women’s changing position in the labour market, their role in pre-nuptial sexuality, and their contribution to marriage and fertility change in the Netherlands between 1880 and 1960. The author reconstructs the socio-economic and demographic worlds of different groups of working and non-working women, and by doing so she is able to locate the various groups driving the changes. Advanced statistical tools enable the author to analyse differences in fertility strategies, stopping versus spacing, employed by various social and cultural groups in the Netherlands. This book leads to conclusions which challenge a number of orthodoxies in the field.