...there seems to be little doubt that work and fertility are negatively correlated and that an increasing proportion of women will work in the future. Imagine, ultimately, a society in which men and women have the same incomes, in which there are as many women as men who are lawyers, engineers, corporation executives, physicians, and salespeople. What would the consequences be for marriage and fertility?
Certainly the institution of marriage would lose one of its few remaining sociological rationales, if one thinks of marriage in functional economic terms as a system whereby the woman offers her childbearing and domestic services in exchange for the security and status of a man's income and occupation. This concept of marriage is unromantic, but there is no doubt that it goes a long way toward explaining the universality and persistance of the institution. If the economic rationale were lost, what then would provide the motivation for marriage? It is hardly necessary these days for companionship or for sexual gratification. Given the growing acceptability of cohabitation (and the ease of divorce), does it not seem likely that traditional marriage will become still less prevalent?