Fertility Decline, Fertility Reversal and Changing Childbearing Considerations in Sweden: A turn to subjective imaginations?
During the 2010s, Sweden, like other Nordic countries, encountered falling fertility rates. This was puzzling, since no structural processes, such as those related to the business cycle or social policy can explain the development. Based on register data, we show that the fertility decline was confined to first births in couples and that it was surprisingly homogenous across socio-demographic groups and regions of residence. Data from the Generations and Gender Survey in 2021 further revealed that it is the childless with a dire outlook on the future and a lack of trust in institutions who are hesitant to become parents. The Covid-19 pandemic seems to have brought another twist to Swedish fertility trends: Monthly data on child births during 2020-2021 suggest that the fertility decline came to a halt during the pandemic. We conjecture that Swedish fertility developments may reflect a “subjective turn” in childbearing considerations. The decision to have children seems less determined by factual circumstances and more by perceived (un)certainties and subjective imaginations of the future.