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Traditional gender roles increasingly popular with millennials, research finds

White people love egalitarian gender roles. Minorities, not so much.

Blacks and Hispanics make up a growing share of millennials, which is driving the views of young people as a whole toward support for traditional gender roles in family life, according to new research by sociologists Joanna Pepin and David Cotter.

W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project, and Demographic Intelligence President Samuel Sturgeon write that views of gender roles have flipped in a generation:

From the 1970s to the 1990s, as baby boomers and Xers came of age, a growing share of young adults ages 18 to 25 rejected the view that it is “much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.” But since the mid-1990s, support for this traditional view has surprisingly climbed among young men and women …

They see strong evidence that “progressivism’s disparate coalition members are not always on board with all of the goals of the movement”:

In 1980, only 7 percent of young adults ages 18 to 25 were Hispanic; today, 22 percent are. … Here, Hispanic families’ long-standing embrace of male breadwinning and female homemaking stands in tension with American progressivism’s commitment to gender equality in the home. Likewise, younger African Americans hold relatively more traditional gender attitudes than do white millennials.

Do-what-we-tell-you feminism from the 1970s, “with its insistence on moms combining full-time work and family life,” is also on the decline in favor of “choice feminism,” they say:

Choice feminism allowed women to invest heavily in their children, juggle work and family responsibilities, and maintain a sense of feminist self-respect. It stands to reason that, in the spirit of this choice feminism, many young adults support an ethic of equal opportunity for women in the public sphere, even as they embrace an ethic of gender specialization in the private sphere.

Part of these attitudes may come from the fact that Americans still largely grow up in households with a “neotraditional” character, they say:

Since the 1990s, married mothers’ labor force participation has stopped rising, the decline in the share of stay-at-home mothers has come to a halt and fathers have continued to serve as primary breadwinners in the clear majority of two-parent families.

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