Net fertility and socioeconomic status: the Swedish case at the onset of fertility decline. A preliminary look at 1890 and 1900 censuses data

Francesco Scalone, Università di Bologna
Martin Dribe, Lund University

The decline of fertility in the demographic transition has been a major theme in the study of historical demography. Much of the literature has focused on measuring the demographic aspects of the decline by charting the process; other research has attempted to explain the decline, primarily at the macro level. Much less attention has been given to disaggregated patterns and micro-level analyses. Analyzing differences in fertility by socioeconomic status and geo-spatial context and documenting how these differences evolved during the fertility transition will lead to a better understanding of historical fertility decline. In this paper, we examine net fertility (surviving children) by socioeconomic status in Sweden’s fertility transition using micro-level census data covering the entire population from 1890 to 1900. Using data from the Swedish censuses makes it possible to analyze socioeconomic patterns controlling for spatial heterogeneity. 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 the number of children under age 5 controlling for spatial variations in social stratification. The results of preliminary models show evidence of differential socio-economic effects on fertility. Interestingly, however, the results of the fixed effects model suggest that when controlling for spatial heterogeneity at the parish level, socio-economic differences in fertility decrease.

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Presented in Poster Session 2