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Leadership skills and completed fertility among males. A study based on data from Swedish registries

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posted on 2022-02-24, 11:20 authored by Steffen Peters, Kieron BarclayKieron Barclay
Human beings tend to organize themselves in social groups with hierarchical structures. Leadership skills (LS) increase the chances of ascending to a higher rank in such hierarchies, which allows individuals to provide greater support for a partner and, eventually, a potential child. Research on the association between LS and fertility outcomes has been relatively scarce though. Our study increases the understanding of this correlation by exploring the prospective association of LS on completed fertility (number of children, childlessness) based on population data from Sweden. Poisson regression and Linear Probability models were applied for this purpose. Additionally, analyses using fixed effects models examine potential differences between within- and between-family considerations. Our findings demonstrate a positive association between LS measured at age of assignment to military service (17-20 years) and number of children by age 39 or later. In addition, men with lower LS scores are more likely to remain childless. Stratifications by potential mediators reveal that patterns are particularly clear among males of lowest income deciles, highest education, and those who have never been married. Males in higher income deciles, the lowest educational group, or who have ever been married do not have large fertility differences by LS scores. Further research is still needed for a better understanding of the personality-fertility link, e.g. whether personality characteristics are associated with the timing of childbearing, or whether similar results can be found in other cultures.


Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Stockholm University

Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond




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Leadership skills and completed fertility among males. A study based on data from Swedish registries

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310 Sociologiska institutionen | Department of Sociology