Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This research investigated the importance of the degree of egalitarianism in the sex role relationship between husband and wife for the outcome of their fertility decisions. Fertility decisions are viewed as the outcome of the social psychological exchange processes of give-and-take and sharing between husband and wife. The essential quality of their exchanges is symbolized by the degree of egalitarianism, interpersonal influence, power and conflict occurring in the marital role relationship. Egalitarianism is defined as a more equal sharing of responsibilities and privileges between spouses. The outcomes of the couple's fertility decisions are defined and measured by the expected completed family size and actual number of births.;It was assumed that more egalitarian role relationships are traded off for large families. It was hypothesized that: The more egalitarian a marital role relationship is, the smaller the expected and actual number of children.;Data from the Canadian Fertility Survey of a subsample of 2,997 married women, 18-49 years of age, in intact first marriages were employed. Gender role egalitarianism was measured by the degree of egalitarian attitudes and behaviour with regards to the division of household labour and childcare, and attitudes towards cohabitation, premarital sex, marriage, and abortion.;Results of the analysis indicated that the inverse relationship between sex role egalitarian attitudes and expected and actual fertility remained statistically significant after the effects of other variables were taken into account. Significant interaction effects between the labour force participation of women and sex role egalitarianism were also found.;It was concluded that the inverse relationship between sex role egalitarianism and fertility is real, and that couples respond in a complex way to social and economic conditions, as a function of their sex roles, reference others, and the course of their social exchanges. The implications of these findings for social policy and future research were also considered.



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