Childbearing By Educational Level in Sweden

Karin Lundström, Statistics Sweden
Johan Tollebrant, Statistics Sweden

In Sweden, like in most other countries, there for long time been a negative correlation between education and childbirth. Women with a higher educational level are getting fewer children and lower educated have more children.

Using administrative data on the total population in Sweden, we analysed the complete birth histories of the cohorts of native-born women born between 1950 and 1980. We follow them from age 30, when most have complete their educations and follow them up to age 45.

When comparing birth rates for women with different levels of education, those with the lowest educational level have had most children on average. But the differences have begun to decline. Women with high levels of education are most likely to have children and they also got a second child to a greater extent than others. Of women born 1975, 11.6 percent of those with at least three years post-secondary education were childless at age 41. The corresponding proportion among women with primary education was 17.1 percent. The proportion that have got at least two children follow the same pattern. Of the highest educated, 76.4 percent had at least two children and among the lowest educated, 65.5 percent.

For women with the highest level of education, the trend in Sweden has been against an increased average number of children, while the number of children has decreased for the other groups. This pattern stands out in an international perspective, only in a few countries the childbirth increase among high educated.

With an increasing proportion of women with high education, this group is growing and the proportion of women with only primary education is decreasing. Therefore, in forecasts of future childbirth, education level may be worth to considering.

Presented in Poster Session 2