Fertility and family policy: an intersectional perspective

Wendy Sigle-Rushton, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

This paper considers how intersectionality, a key theoretical and methodological concept, can contribute to the way we, as demographers, understand and study the relationship between fertility and family policy in Europe. Intersectionality posits that different dimensions of social life are intersecting, mutually modifying and inseparable. Accepting the basic premise of intersectionality means acknowledging that it is potentially problematic to conceptualize or name women as a homogeneous group. This has two important consequences for the study of fertility and family policy. First of all, it helps us make sense of the cross-national evidence that, at first glance, is somewhat puzzling. Second, by drawing attention to processes of exclusion and its consequences, intersectionality highlights the need to critically question our own position and assumptions. An intersectional perspective requires that we take heterogeneity into account when we describe or endorse particular policy options as "woman" or "family" friendly.

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Presented in Session 109: Gender assumptions, policy design and demographic outcomes: focus on fertility