Volume 29 - Article 11 | Pages 275–306

Love, marriage, then the baby carriage? Marriage timing and childbearing in Sweden

By Jennifer A. Holland

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:07 Mar 2012
Date published:20 Aug 2013
Word count:7886
Keywords:childbearing, marriage, population register, Sweden


Background: Some scholars claim that marriage is an outmoded institution, decoupled from the childbearing process in Sweden. However, it is likely that the presence of children is still linked to marriage, since most children born to cohabiting couples experience the marriage of their parents. The temporal ordering of childbearing and marriage may be informative as to the meaning of marriage.

Objective: I develop a typology of marriage, structured around four possible meanings of marriage as a Family Forming, Legitimizing, Reinforcing and Capstone institution.

Methods: I analyze administrative register data covering all Swedish women born between 1950 and 1977, who have lived continuously in Sweden and were never married and childless at age 18 (N = 1,396,305). I tabulate the incidence and type of all first marriages by age and educational attainment.

Results: Family Forming marriage (prior to a first conception) is the dominate first marriage type across all cohorts. The share of Legitimizing marriages (post-conception or within 12 months of a first birth) has declined across cohorts. There is an emerging trend toward Capstone marriage (after the birth of two or more children). There is an educational gradient in the experience and type of first marriage. Tertiary-educated women more frequently marry prior to a first birth (Family Forming or Legitimizing marriage). While fewer less-educated women marry, there is greater diversity in the timing of their marriages relative to childbearing.

Conclusions: Results demonstrate a continued link between childbearing and marriage, although the ordering of these events may be changing for some subpopulations.

Author's Affiliation

Jennifer A. Holland - Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, the Netherlands [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Using Twitter data for demographic research
Volume 37 - Article 46

» The timing of marriage vis-à-vis coresidence and childbearing in Europe and the United States
Volume 36 - Article 20

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Demographic trends in Sweden: Childbearing developments in 1961-2000, marriage and divorce developments in 1971-1999
Volume 5 - Article 3    | Keywords: childbearing, marriage, Sweden

» Parental leave policies and continued childbearing in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden
Volume 40 - Article 51    | Keywords: childbearing, Sweden

» The living arrangements of Moroccans in Spain: Generation and time
Volume 40 - Article 37    | Keywords: childbearing, marriage

» The timing of marriage vis-à-vis coresidence and childbearing in Europe and the United States
Volume 36 - Article 20    | Keywords: childbearing, marriage

» The contributions of childbearing within marriage and within consensual union to fertility in Latin America, 1980-2010
Volume 34 - Article 29    | Keywords: childbearing, marriage


»Volume 29





Similar Articles



Jump to Article

Volume Page
Volume Article ID