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Education, Labor Force Participation and Changing Fertility Patterns. A Study of Women and Socioeconomic Change in Twentieth Century Sweden.

Publiceringsår: 2003
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 299
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Lund Studies in Economic History
Volym: 22
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: Almqvist & Wiksell International, P O Box 7634, 103 94 Stockholm, Sweden,


This book deals with women and socioeconomic change in twentieth century Sweden. The main focus is on how women’s education and labor force participation have affected fertility over time. Although many perceive Sweden as a country where men and women have equal opportunities, traditional gender roles continue to constrain male and female activities and opportunities. The gender division of labor within the family, as well as within society as a whole, is central to the conceptual framework for the theoretically oriented analysis that is founded in neoclassical theory. Another theoretical feature is the application of a long-term historical as well as a gender perspective. Empirically, this study analyzes fertility change, labor force participation and transitions in connection with childbirth, educational segregation, and leaving home; using quantitative, macro-level and micro-level, data as well as qualitative sources.

During the twentieth century, women’s advances in education overtook the lead position of men, female labor force participation increased, and the gender wage gap narrowed considerably. These economic changes generated demographic responses, notably timing effects on fertility that made the period fertility rate fluctuate, as the incentive structure for potential mothers changed and the relative cost of children increased. Change was, however, concentrated to distinct periods, namely the 1920s, the post-war 1940s, and the 1960s and 1970s. The 1990s also emerges as an important period of change. The results of this study indicate that women changed their behavior much more than men during these periods as opportunities for women to partake in production increased through economic structural change. Moreover, policy reforms that facilitated the combination of productive and reproductive activities were effectuated. Against the background of structural change in the Swedish economy, women over time chose different strategies, meaning different combinations over the life cycle of education, career and fertility.

This study of the long-term development of education, labor force participation and fertility contributes to our understanding of important facets of the twentieth century and why the road to gender equality has been so slow.


EC III 211
  • Elyce J. Rotella (Professor)


  • Economic History
  • longitudinal analysis
  • time series analysis
  • 20th century Sweden
  • compatibility
  • division of labor
  • gender
  • structural change
  • fertility
  • Education
  • labor force participation
  • Social and economic history
  • Ekonomisk och social historia


  • ISSN: 1400-4860
  • ISBN: 91-22- 0200-4

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