A central premise of the first demographic transition theory is that demographic change would occur more slowly in rural than urban areas. Few studies, however, have investigated whether rural areas remain holdouts during the second demographic transition. To address this gap, this study (1) examines trends among rural and urban families in Canada and the United States over a 30-year period and (2) determines whether compositional differences in demographic, socioeconomic, and religious factors explain current differences between rural and urban families. We find that rural Canadian women continue to have, on average, 0.6 more children than urban women. However, rural families do not trail behind urban families on any other indicator of family change. In fact, rural women in both countries are now significantly more likely to cohabit and roughly 10 percentage points more likely to have children outside of marriage than urban women. These differences are largely explained by lower levels of education and income among rural American women and fewer immigrants in rural Canada. Examining family change through a rural–urban lens fills important empirical gaps and yields novel insights into current debates on the fundamental causes of ongoing family change in high-income countries.

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