Patterns of deferment of first births in modern Sweden
preprintposted on 12.02.2021, 16:24 by Britta Hoem, Jan M. Hoem
Young Swedes have postponed first births just as young people have done in other countries. This paper argues that this development has its background in the attitudinal changes that were precipitated by the recently-won individual efficient control over childbearing. Some of these changes are consequences of deliberate public policies, others have emerged through sliding norms, usually in concert with but sometimes well ahead of similar developments in other countries. The changes have worked in two important ways. First, the expectation of permanent labor force participation and the connection of maternity rights with job-holding encourages women to work towards a firm foothold in the labor market before entry into motherhood. Secondly, the lower normal commitment level of the new kind of early nonmarital union has led to an instability of partnerships that must in itself have contributed to the deferment of childbearing until the durability of the union has been established. The expansion in female education may have played a smaller role in this picture.