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A review of policies and practices related to the 'highest-low' fertility of Sweden

  • Gunnar Andersson
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    This article reviews research on the role social and family policies play for fertility in Sweden. Swedish family policies are not directly aimed at encouraging childbirth. Their main goal has rather been to support women's participation in the labour force and to promote gender equality. They focus on enabling individuals to pursue their family and occupational pathways without being too dependent on other persons. The following measures have helped women to reconcile family and working life: individual taxation and individual-based socialsecurity systems, which make gendered segregation of work and care less attractive for couples; an income replacement-based parental-leave system, which gives women incentives to establish themselves on the labour market before considering childbirth; and subsidised child care, which allows women to return to work after parental leave. Fertility has fluctuated during recent decades but--as in the other Nordic countries with similar welfare state setups -it has remained well above the European average. The Swedish institutional context clearly is conducive to such 'highest-low' fertility. My review documents the importance of institutional factors in shaping childbearing behaviour and demonstrates some specific impacts of family policies on demographic behaviour.

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    Article provided by Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna in its journal Vienna Yearbook of Population Research.

    Volume (Year): 6 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 89-102

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    Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:6:y:2008:i:1:p:89-102
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/

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    1. Gunnar Andersson, 2002. "Fertility developments in Norway and Sweden since the early 1960s," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 6(4), pages 67-86, February.
    2. Ronald Rindfuss & David Guilkey & S. Morgan & Øystein Kravdal & Karen Guzzo, 2007. "Child care availability and first-birth timing in Norway," Demography, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 345-372, May.
    3. Jan M. Hoem, 2005. "Why does Sweden have such high fertility?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(22), pages 559-572, November.
    4. Gunnar Andersson & Kirk Scott, 2007. "Childbearing dynamics of couples in a universalistic welfare state: the role of labor-market status, country of origin, and gender," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2007-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    5. Tomas Frejka & Gerard Calot, 2001. "Cohort Reproductive Patterns in the Nordic Countries," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 5(5), pages 125-186, November.
    6. Peter McDonald, 2000. "Gender Equity in Theories of Fertility Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(3), pages 427-439.
    7. FFF1Gunnar NNN1Andersson, 2004. "Childbearing Developments in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden from the 1970s to the 1990s: A Comparison," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(7), pages 155-176, April.
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