Love, Marriage, Then the Baby Carriage? Marriage Timing and Childbearing in Sweden

Jennifer A. Holland, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

Some claim that marriage is an outmoded institution, decoupled from the childbearing process in Sweden. However, it is likely that the presence of children is still linked to marriage, as the vast majority of children born to cohabiting couples experience the marriage of their parents. The ordering of childbearing and marriage may be informative as to the meaning of marriage. This paper proposes four possible meanings of marriage in relation to childbearing: marriage as a traditional, legitimizing, reinforcing and capstone institution. An analysis of Swedish register data covering the 1950 to 1977 birth cohorts (N = 2,984,757) reveals that Family Forming marriage (prior to a birth) is the dominate marriage type, although there is an emerging trend toward Capstone marriage (after the birth of two or more children). Results demonstrate a continued link between childbearing and marriage, although the ordering of these events may be changing for some subpopulations.

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Presented in Session 39: Union Formation in Developed Countries