Principal investigator (Project leader) 

Gunnar Andersson

Project members 

Sunnee Billingsley, Johan Dahlberg, Helen Eriksson, Martin Kolk, Sofi Ohlsson-Wijk 

Funding source 

Forte (Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare)

Proposal duration



Over the past decade fertility rates in Sweden have declined somewhat unexpectedly. This development has occurred in tandem with even greater fertility declines in the other Nordic countries. The fall in fertility poses a puzzle for demography since none of the factors commonly associated with fertility decline have been observed during the past decade. Equally surprising are changes in cohort fertility patterns.

It is no longer highly educated women who have the highest childlessness, but low educated women and men. This growing social inequality in family formation contrasts with growing gender equality in ultimate (cohort) fertility. Our project aims at investigating these puzzling developments in more detail and to explore the factors that may drive them. We use collections of Swedish register data to study how the parity-specific fertility of women and men in Sweden have changed over the recent and current period of fertility decline.

We pay special attention to changes in fertility by gender, migrant background, education, socio-economic status, and geographical regions in Sweden in order to examine whether social and gender (in)equalities are increasing, decreasing or shifting. We further investigate the links between labor market transformations, such as changes in industry, occupations and workplaces, and fertility development to understand their role in generating fertility decline and gender and social (in)equalities in ultimate fertility.

Our project will also monitor ongoing fertility development in the wake of the current Corona epidemic and the economic consequences that follow. It breaks new ground since neither the current decline in fertility, its related shifts in social and gender (in)equality, the effects of labor market transformation or changes in family formation have yet been studied.

The results will be of high relevance, because all of these changes have major impacts on Swedish society, its welfare state, and the labor market.