Socioeconomic differences in the fertility transition: a micro level study of southern Sweden

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The almost complete focus on the aggregate level in previous research on demographic,
socioeconomic and cultural determinants of the fertility transition means that we to a
large extent not only lack knowledge about the specific mechanisms of the decline, but
also its socioeconomic patterns. In this paper we explore socioeconomic fertility
differentials in an industrializing community of southern Sweden using longitudinal
micro data. We analyze fertility differentials between various socioeconomic groups
over time, both in the agrarian sector and in the growing industrial sector. Data comes
from the Scanian Demographic Database, which contains micro-level demographic as
well as socioeconomic data, including occupations and landholdings. In the analysis we
use hazard regressions with shared unobserved heterogeneity at the family level. We
show that the fertility transition involved not only parity-specific stopping but also
prolonged birth intervals. While the well-off groups had higher fertility prior to the
transition, they started to control their fertility earlier and more consistently. As a result
the socioeconomic fertility differences first reversed and even widened before they later
converged. We also demonstrate the emergence of new fertility behavior in response to
child death, in which a deliberate replacement effect becomes dominating. Also in this
regard there were pronounced socioeconomic differentials in the transition.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2009
EventXXV International Population Conference - Marrakech, Morocco
Duration: 2009 Sep 272009 Oct 2


ConferenceXXV International Population Conference

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economic History


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