As some European countries demonstrate a sustained super-low fertility rate and significantly delayed first marriage age, and as sexuality gradually separates from marriage and fertility, there is no sign that the fertility rate will rebound above the replacement level to achieve the modern balance expected by classic demographic transition theory. Some demographers have proposed the theory of a ‘second demographic transition’, which has gradually been recognized by other researchers. From a global perspective, by the end of the twentieth century, the nuclear family – in which the husband supports the family by making money, the wife takes care of the house, and they jointly raise their dependent children – continued to decrease steadily. This typical modern nuclear family is no longer a mainstream pattern in some European countries. A rising divorce rate also leads to the increase in the number of single-parent families, remarried families, and stepfamilies. At the same time, cohabitation and birth out of wedlock are increasingly prevalent. Diversified family patterns are continuously emerging, including intermarriage between different races, castes, or religions, adoptive families, voluntary childless marriages, first marriage families with stepchildren, and samesex couples. Therefore, individualization has gradually come to the forefront in the development of Western family theory, with the focus of analysis shifting from the family itself to the individual. The discussion on the modern nuclear family, both in terms of the family as a legal entity and the family in everyday life, has been gradually replaced by terms such as double deinstitutionalization, the post-modern family, and families in the post-family era that are characterized by fluidity, uncertainty, and restructuring. Today in China, almost four decades after the implementation of family planning policy between 1978 and 1980, the fertility rate continues to decline, families tend to be smaller in size, and the ages of marriage and childbearing are increasingly delayed. Coupled with decreased social intervention in the sphere of private life, freedom of personal choice in marriage and lifestyle has been increasing, along with the divorce rate. Some scholars believe that as in Western developed countries, the second demographic transition is emerging in China. Family structure and relationships have entered the era of individualization and diversification. Even as in European countries and the United States, the transition focusing on post-modernist features such as deinstitutionalization and detraditionalization has appeared in China. Individual choice and the popularity of family patterns and lifestyles, such as generally later marriages, living alone as singles, single parenting, cohabitation without marriage, remarriage, and doubleincome with no children couples (DINKs: Dual Income, No Kids) are publicized and overstated. Undoubtedly, modernization theory still has some explanatory power and influence at the macro level of family evolution. Even in China, several studies in developed urban areas document a relatively high proportion of small families with a more equal relationship between the husband and the wife. The comparison of the results of the census data over the years also shows the increase of single-person households and nuclear families. This is seen as evidence that the
numbers of people who do not want to get married, young couples who do not want to have children, and empty nest families consisting of older parents are rapidly growing. But beyond this, the explanatory power of family modernization theory is limited, and the individualized post-modern family is still far from the reality of China, or it is just a misreading of some survey data and case studies.