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Changing Gender Roles and Attitudes to Family Formation in Ireland$
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Margret Fine-Davis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719096969

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719096969.001.0001

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Summary and discussion

Summary and discussion

(p.177) 11 Summary and discussion
Changing Gender Roles and Attitudes to Family Formation in Ireland

Margret Fine-Davis

Manchester University Press

Chapter 11 summarises and integrates the key findings from the previous chapters. The results are discussed in light of the significant changes in demographic behaviour, notably later age at marriage and first birth, decreasing fertility and the increase in the proportion of single people in the population. The increasing education of women and their greater role in the labour force is leading to postponement of couple formation and childbearing. In addition the increasing value placed on autonomy, freedom and independence is also contributing to changes in family formation. This delay has little effect on men, but disproportionately affects women, who are caught between their biological clocks and their wish to continue actively in the labour market. This is exacerbated by the high cost of childcare and the lack of flexible working arrangements. As a result, young men and women who want to start families, while at the same time fulfilling their own needs for autonomy and development, are facing dilemmas. A price is being paid in terms of the lesser well-being of single people, relative to married and cohabiting people, and older, well-educated women are particularly affected. The results are discussed in relation to the international literature and implications for social policy are put forward.

Keywords:   Postponement of couple formation, Postponement of childbearing, Biological clock, autonomy, Well-being of single people, Well-educated women, Social policy implications

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