Socioeconomic status and net fertility in the demographic transition: Sweden in 1900 – A preliminary analysis

Francesco Scalone (Lund University), Martin Dribe (Lund University)

Abstract

Socioeconomic status and net fertility in the demographic transition: Sweden in 1900 – A preliminary analysis

There has recently been a renewed interest in the socioeconomic aspects of reproduction during the great fertility decline. While most previous work on the European fertility decline has been macro-oriented, using various kinds of aggregate data picturing of the demographic processes at regional or national level, much less has been done using micro-level data, and specifically looking at patterns across social groups. In this paper we look at the association between socioeconomic status and net fertility in Sweden’s fertility transition using micro-level census data covering the entire population around 1900. The data contain information on number of children by age, occupation of the mother and father, place of residence and household context. Coding occupations in HISCO and classifying them into a social class scheme (HISCLASS) enables us to study the impact of socioeconomic status on number of children under 5, controlling also for spatial variations in social stratification. Our results indicate that the crude socioeconomic differentials in net fertility were substantial in Sweden immediately before 1900, with the elite and the upper middle classes having considerably lower marital child-woman ratios than the working classes. However, these crude differences were partly explained by compositional differences between classes according to age, community context and spatial heterogeneity. Nonetheless, even when controlling for individual and household variables as well as parish level fixed effects, the elite group had considerably lower net fertility than the other groups.

DOI: 10.4424/ps2010-13

Keywords

Socioeconomic stratification; family formation; fertility; Sweden