Volume 19 - Article 28 | Pages 1105–1144  

Sweden: Combining childbearing and gender equality

By Livia Sz. Oláh, Eva Bernhardt

This article is part of the Special Collection 7 "Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe"


Sweden is the forerunner of the Second Demographic Transition. Fertility trends have fluctuated greatly since the 1960s, and the 1990s showed both European-highest and lowest-ever-in-Sweden levels, while the cohort pattern has been relatively stable. Period fluctuations have been accompanied by a postponement of entering committed partnerships and parenthood as well as an increasing instability of family relationships. The awareness and the availability of effective contraceptives have been extensive since the mid-1970s, the year the liberal abortion law was introduced.
Post-modern values are dominant in this highly secularized society, but ideal family size is among the highest in the European Union, and childlessness has remained at a relatively low level. Ethnic diversification has increased over time, with about one-fifth of the population having a ‘foreign background’ in the early 2000s. The level of female labor-force participation is the highest in Europe (although mothers of pre-schoolers often work part-time), and young women are just as highly educated as men. Family policies, based on the principle of equality across social groups and gender, seem to play an important role in keeping fertility relatively high. In combination with other factors, family policies also play a role in the fluctuations of fertility rates, as eligibility to parental-leave and benefits as well as the availability of public childcare are linked to parents’ labor-force attachment.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Attitudes toward work and parenthood following family-building transitions in Sweden: Identifying differences by gender and education
Volume 49 - Article 30

Introduction to the Special Collection on The new roles of women and men and implications for families and societies
Volume 48 - Article 29

Economic uncertainty and first-birth intentions in Europe
Volume 39 - Article 28

Introduction to the Special Collection on Finding Work-Life Balance: History, Determinants, and Consequences of New Bread-Winning Models in the Industrialized World
Volume 37 - Article 26

Division of housework and his and her view of housework fairness: A typology of Swedish couples
Volume 36 - Article 16

Domestic gender equality and childbearing in Sweden
Volume 29 - Article 40

Should governments in Europe be more aggressive in pushing for gender equality to raise fertility? The second "YES"
Volume 24 - Article 9

Reconciling studies of men’s gender attitudes and fertility: Response to Westoff and Higgins
Volume 22 - Article 8

Men's childbearing desires and views of the male role in Europe at the dawn of the 21st century
Volume 19 - Article 56

Gender and family stability: Dissolution of the first parental union in Sweden and Hungary
Volume 4 - Article 2

Becoming a Mother in Hungary and Poland during State Socialism
Special Collection 3 - Article 9

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