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Why does Sweden have such high fertility?

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  • Jan M. Hoem

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

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    Abstract

    By current European standards, Sweden has had a relatively high fertility in recent decades. During the 1980s and 1990s, the annual Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for Sweden undulated considerably around a level just under 1.8, which is a bit lower than the corresponding level in France and well above the level in West Germany. (In 2004 the Swedish TFR reached 1.76 on an upward trend.) The Swedish completed Cohort Fertility Rate (CFR) was rather constant at 2 for the cohorts that produced children in the same period; for France it stayed around 2.1 while the West-German CFR was lower and declined regularly to around 1.6. In this presentation, I describe the background for these developments and explain the unique Swedish undulations. Part of the explanation of the trend and level in Swedish fertility is the extensive battery of public family policies in the country. They reflect the great generosity, high flexibility, and universalistic approach of the whole system, where family policies are coordinated with educational policies and labor-market policies in an effort to promote the status of women and achieve equity for all residents. The state has been engaged in the development of high-quality all-day childcare arrangements available to all children, and has conducted campaigns to influence public attitudes toward a woman-friendly political culture. Reforms have been motivated by gender-equality considerations and by a drive to induce women to participate in the labor force and to induce men into parenting and childrearing. Legal rules are individualistic, as highlighted by the abolishment of the public widow’s pension and by a tax system where income tax is levied from the individual and not from the married couple or the household, as in Germany. Welfare-state benefits are directed similarly to the individual, not to the family. Policies can be said to focus on the equal right of working women to have children rather than of the right of mothers to have a job. There is no inclination in the Swedish system to encourage a mother to stay home and take care of her children; if anything there has been a move toward securing both-parent participation in childrearing.

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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2005-009.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2005-009.

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    Length: 13 pages
    Date of creation: Apr 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2005-009

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

    Related research

    Keywords: Sweden; fertility;

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    References

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    1. Gunnar Andersson, 2005. "A study on policies and practices in selected countries that encourage childbirth: the case of Sweden," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2005-005, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    2. Gerda R. Neyer, 2003. "Family policies and low fertility in Western Europe," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-021, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    3. Neyer, Gerda, 2003. "Family Policies and Low Fertility in Western Europe," Discussion Paper 161, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    4. Jan M. Hoem & Alexia Prskawetz & Gerda R. Neyer, 2001. "Autonomy or conservative adjustment? The effect of public policies and educational attainment on third births in Austria," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Le variabili nascoste delle contro-riforme pensionistiche
      by Lorenzo Battisti in Pensieri Economici on 2012-03-11 21:08:00
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    Cited by:
    1. C. Katharina Spieß & Katharina Wrohlich, 2006. "The Parental Leave Benefit Reform in Germany: Costs and Labour Market Outcomes of Moving towards the Scandinavian Model," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 630, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Samuel H. Preston & Caroline Sten Hartnett, 2010. "The Future of American Fertility," NBER Chapters, in: Demography and the Economy, pages 11-36 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Samuel H. Preston & Caroline Sten Hartnett, 2008. "The Future of American Fertility," NBER Working Papers 14498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Zubin Shroff & Marcia C. Castro, 2011. "The potential impact of intermarriage on the population decline of the Parsis of Mumbai, India," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(17), pages 545-564, August.
    5. Jan Brenner, 2009. "Life-Cycle Variations in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings – Evidence for German Natives and Guest Workers," Ruhr Economic Papers 0095, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    6. Jan M. Hoem, 2008. "Overview Chapter 8: The impact of public policies on European fertility," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(10), pages 249-260, July.
    7. Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, 2007. "Social mobility and fertility," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 17(15), pages 441-464, December.
    8. Anne Gauthier, 2007. "The impact of family policies on fertility in industrialized countries: a review of the literature," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 323-346, June.
    9. Rueda, Cristina & Rodríguez, Pilar, 2010. "State space models for estimating and forecasting fertility," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 712-724, October.
    10. Livia Sz. Oláh & Eva Bernhardt, 2008. "Sweden: Combining childbearing and gender equality," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(28), pages 1105-1144, July.
    11. Tomas Kögel, 2006. "Swedish Family Policy, Fertility and Female Wages," Discussion Paper Series 2006_7, Department of Economics, Loughborough University.
    12. Ian Dey & Fran Wasoff, 2010. "Another Child? Fertility Ideals, Resources and Opportunities," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 29(6), pages 921-940, December.
    13. C. Spiess & Katharina Wrohlich, 2008. "The Parental Leave Benefit Reform in Germany: Costs and Labour Market Outcomes of Moving towards the Nordic Model," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 27(5), pages 575-591, October.
    14. Jan Van Bavel & Joanna Rózanska-Putek, 2010. "Second birth rates across Europe: interactions between women’s level of education and child care enrolment," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 8(1), pages 107-138.
    15. Frances Goldscheider & Eva Bernhardt & Maria Brandén, 2013. "Domestic gender equality and childbearing in Sweden," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 29(40), pages 1097-1126, December.
    16. Hill Kulu & Andres Vikat & Gunnar Andersson, 2006. "Settlement size and fertility in the Nordic countries," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2006-024, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

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