Kinship and Socioeconomic Status: Social Gradients in Frequencies of Kin Across the Life Course in Sweden
Socioeconomic status influences demographic behavior. Moreover, socioeconomic status tends to correlate across generations. Consequently, kinship structures likely display social stratification. However, the processes of kinship stratification are intricate, and its prevalence and antecedents are rarely studied empirically. We have estimated socioeconomic differences in kinship in Sweden using administrative register data of the total Swedish population. We created kinship networks for the 1973 birth cohort and followed the growth and decline of kin from birth to age 45 of this birth cohort. We analyzed consanguineous kin, as well as spouses, reproductive partners, parents-in-law, and siblings-in-law. We calculated the difference in total kinship size across earnings and educational groups. We broke down the contributions of specific kin groups to this difference and also analyzed which demographic behaviors and generations contributed most to socioeconomic differences in kinship. Among men and women with low socioeconomic status (SES), higher fertility in earlier generations resulted in more kin than those with high SES. Among low SES men and siblings, lower fertility and union instability narrowed SES differences in the number of kin.