Suessmilch Lecture | November 16, 2017

The Reversal of the Gender Gap in Education and Family Dynamics in Europe

On November 22 Jan van Bavel from the University of Leuven will give a lecture at the MPIDR about the implications of the reversal of the gender gap in education for family dynamics.


While men tended to receive more education than women in the past, the gender gap in education has reversed in recent decades in most Western and many non-Western countries. In this lecture, I will present our research about the implications for union formation, assortative mating, women’s relative earnings, and union stability in European countries. Couples in which wives have more education than their husbands now outnumber those in which husbands have more. This is also associated with a growing share of families in which the wife is earning more than the husband. While such marriages were more unstable in the past, this is no longer true. In order to enhance our understanding of these things, we employ innovative methodology and call for a revision of conventional family theories.

About the speaker

Jan Van Bavel (°1971) is full professor of demography and sociology of population at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven). After heading the Interface Demography research unit of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) for six years, he joined the Centre for Sociological Research and the unit for Family and Population Studies of the University of Leuven in 2011. His research addresses long term trends in fertility, family formation, and union dissolution, from the nineteenth into the twenty-first century. In 2012, he obtained a Starting Grant from the European Research Council for a five year project to study the implications of the reversal of the gender gap in education for family dynamics. 

Time and Venue

Wednesday, November 22, 2017, 3 p.m., in the Institute's Auditorium