Micro- and Macro-Level Dynamics in Gender Attitudes in 1977-2012: An Age-Period-Cohort Analysis

Xiaoling Shu, University of California, Davis
Kealsey Meagher, University of California, Davis

Research has traced the trajectory of historical change and cohort transition in gender attitudes, but it remains unclear to what extent these transformations are products of changes in micro-level characteristics or macro-level social shifts or net cohort and period transitions. We test these questions using cross-classified age-period-cohort models on data from the General Social Survey 1977-2012 (N = 39,351). Changes in individual education, demographic characteristics, marriage and family arrangements, religious practices, employment and income, and ideological orientations account for more than 85 percent of the cohort variations in gender attitude; they also account for 30 percent of the period changes. Macro-level dynamics, historical transitions in female labor force participation and cycles of economy growth, account for another half of the variance in the period pattern. The conservative swing in the 1990s remains unexplained, so it could be interpreted as resulting from a rise of the "separate but equal" cultural gender scheme.

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Presented in Session 174: Trends in Gender Inequality in the United States