Socioeconomic Status and Fertility: Sweden 1950-2010

Martin Dribe, Center for Economic Demography and Department of Economic History, Lund University
Christopher Smith, Lund University

This project focuses on the association between socioeconomic status and fertility. Little is known about micro level fertility processes during the time period around and shortly after WWII due to the lack of data. An aim of this project is to document fertility behavior and how this varies by socioeconomic status during this time period. A second aim is to consider the changing relationship between fertility and socioeconomic status into more recent times, and whether higher social classes have begun exhibiting different fertility patterns. Drawing on the quantity-quality trade off and opportunity-costs hypotheses, we expect women from the highest social classes to exhibit delayed and reduced fertility compared to other groups. However, this may be ameliorated by the development of institutional support, such as public daycare and extended periods of parental leave. Using unique data in southern Sweden, we examine age at first birth and find women from higher social classes exhibited later ages at fist birth than most groups, and that this difference grows over time. This suggests this period served as a step-stone to greater fertility differences between classes in the contemporary period. Also, the association between social class and fertility does not lessen, raising questions to the effect of institutions to alleviate role incompatibility.

Presented in Session 1158: Fertility