Keynote speeches

Lynn Prince Cooke
(University of Bath)
The Pathology of Patriarchy and Family Inequalities

Mikko Myrskylä
(Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research & University of Helsinki & London School of Economics)
Micro Decisions, Macro Effects, and Within-Family Inequalities

Francesco Billari
(Bocconi University & University of Oxford)
Demographic Choices, the Digital Revolution and Inequality


Lynn Prince Cooke

The Pathology of Patriarchy and Family Inequalities

Much demographic research implicitly or explicitly views family changes over the past half century as examples of the “pathology of matriarchy” first raised in Moynihan’s 1965 report on The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. The basis of this perspective is the correlation between female-headed families and negative outcomes for children. Yet the magnitude of family changes and any ill-effects vary across social groups within their cultural, economic, and political contexts. By reviewing the research on family, market, and policy changes over the past half-century with this in mind, I argue that the pattern of group variation does not point to an inherent pathology of matriarchy because the differences in life chances across family types are minimized where institutional arrangements support greater gender (and class) equality. In fact, the gendered responses to the inter-related family, market, and state institutional changes suggest instead it is a growing pathology of patriarchy disproportionately hurting the life chances of boys and men in post-industrial societies.  Only with full gender equality in states, markets, and families will the pathology recede.