Volume 47 - Article 12 | Pages 345–358

Disentangling the Swedish fertility decline of the 2010s

By Sofi Ohlsson-Wijk, Gunnar Andersson

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Date received:04 Feb 2022
Date published:10 Aug 2022
Word count:2499
Keywords:childbearing, fertility, fertility decline, fertility trends, Sweden


Background: The downward fertility trend in Western countries during the 2010s is puzzling, not least in the Nordic region.

Objective: In order to better understand its driving forces, we examine whether the decline is driven by differential behavior or compositional changes across sociodemographic population subgroups, for the empirical case of Sweden.

Methods: Event-history techniques are applied to register data of the Swedish-born population to provide an in-depth analysis of the sociodemographic profile of the fertility decline.

Results: The decline is confined to first births, with no apparent difference between individuals living in different types of municipalities or between those with fully Swedish and non-Swedish backgrounds. The first-birth decline is notable across labor market activity groups, but is somewhat more pronounced among those with weaker labor market positions. However, the shares of men and women who were active in the labor market and who had high earnings increased. The findings are strikingly similar for men and women.

Conclusions: For the most part the factors driving the Swedish fertility decline do not appear to be structural. Other forces, perhaps global, may underlie the general tendency to increasingly forego or postpone having children. The polarization in childbearing across labor market positions is an area for future research.

Contribution: The study provides new insights into the conundrum of Nordic fertility decline during the 2010s.

Author's Affiliation

Sofi Ohlsson-Wijk - Stockholms Universitet, Sweden [Email]
Gunnar Andersson - Stockholms Universitet, Sweden [Email]

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