Centre for Economic Demography

Lund University School of Economics and Management

Recent publications

Interesting and new academic works by researchers at the Centre are presented here and up-dated on a regular basis.


The forest and the trees: Industrialization, demographic change, and the ongoing gender revolution in Sweden and the United States, 1870-2010

The separate spheres, in which men dominate the public sphere of politics, arts, media, and wage work and women dominate the private sphere of unpaid production and caring, is a powerful configuration in much social theory, which posited that with industrialization, family structures and activities would converge towards the nuclear family with strict gender roles. The unraveling of the separate spheres began with the increase in the labor force participation of married women and continues with the increase in men’s involvement with their homes and children, but its foundations were laid in the 19th century, with industrialization. We show that despite short-term stalls, slowdowns, and even reverses, as well as huge differences in policy contexts, the overall picture of increasing gender sharing in family support and care is strongly taking shape in both countries.

Maria Stanfors & F. Goldscheider (2017) The forest and the trees: Industrialization, demographic change, and the ongoing gender revolution in Sweden and the United States, 1870-2010. Demographic Research 36:6, 173-226

The Effect of Schooling on Mortality: New Evidence From 50,000 Swedish Twins.

Petter Lundborg, Carl Hampus Lyttkens & Paul Nystedt (2016). The Effect of Schooling on Mortality: New Evidence From 50,000 Swedish Twins.  Demography 53:1135-1168

DOI 10.1007/s13524-016-0489-3

Exploring the role of communication in shaping fertility transition patterns in space and time

Sebastian Klüsener, Francesco Scalone and Martin Dribe (2016). Exploring the role of communication in shaping fertility transition patterns in space and time, in A. Grow and J. Van Bavel (eds.) Agent-Based Modelling in Population Studies. Concepts, Methods, and Applications. Dordrecht: Springer.

Fighting Infections Disease: Evidence from Sweden 1870-1940

Even more than in developing countries today, public health strategies to fight infectious disease in the past focused on the prevention of new infections by stopping their spread. These strategies were motivated by new insights into the causes of disease and the modes of transmission in the mid-nineteenth century. By combining longitudinal individual-level data on 17,000 children in a rural/semi-urban region in southern Sweden with local community data on public health investments, we explore the effects of the establishment of isolation hospitals and improved midwifery on mortality before age 15. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find that the establishment of isolation hospitals in the mid-1890s was successful in reducing child mortality, while increases in the number of qualified midwives after the 1900s led to a decrease in infant mortality. In both cases, rates fell by more than 50 percent.

Lazuka, V, Quaranta, L, Bengtsson, T. (2016). Fighting Infections Disease: Evidence from Sweden 1870-1940. Population and Development Review (vol. 42, no. 1).

Women living in states with restrictive abortion policies are more likely than others to use highly effective contraceptives

In the past decade in particular, there have been substantial increases in the proportion of women of reproductive age living in states with highly restrictive abortion policies. Against that backdrop, there is a need to understand how women’s contraceptive behavior is related to restrictions on abortion access in the state where they live. In this study, data from the 1995 and 2010 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) in conjunction with information on state-level abortion context were analyzed. The analysis suggests that women living in states with more restrictive abortion contexts tend to use highly effective contraceptives. However, increases in states’ restrictiveness during the study period did not appear to be associated with increased use of highly effective methods. It is likely that states introducing restrictive legislation already had significant restrictions in place, and women living in these states had previously adjusted their behaviors. Contraceptive choice seems to be most strongly influenced by individual characteristics, irrespective of the larger abortion context. The best way to prevent unintended pregnancies is to ensure access to highly effective contraceptive methods for all women, particularly in contexts where access to abortion is limited.

Jacobs, J. & Stanfors, M. (2015). State Abortion Context and U.S. Women’s Contraceptive Choices, 1995–2010. Perspectives of Sexual and Reproductive Health (vol. 47, no. 2).



Did social mobility increase during the industrialization process? A micro-level study of a trasnforming community in southern Sweden 1828-1968

This article studies class attainment and mobility in a long-term perspective, covering the entire transition from a preindustrial to a mature industrial society. The results show that both absolute and relative mobility increased, mainly because upward mobility become more prevalent. By looking at status attainment into different segments of the middle class and elite, the study also show an increasing role played by formal education and meritocracy for the opportunities of people from low-class origin to advance socially. However, this development is more connected with the maturing of industrial society than with industrialization as such.

Martin Dribe, Jonas Helgertz, Bart van de Putte, Did social mobility increase during the industrialization process? A micro-level study of a transforming community in southern Sweden 1828–1968. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 41: 25–39.



Functional form matters if you want to get your Mincer earnings equations right

 In this study, we evaluate the empirical performance of the standard Mincer earnings equation, which has been the benchmark model for assessment of wage profiles since 1974. Our analysis concerns workers in the manufacturing industry in Britain, Sweden, and the United States circa 1900. We add a gender perspective to the existing historical wage growth literature where previous studies have mostly had a male focus and missed the gender dimension. We find that the Mincer equation needs to be adjusted with respect to functional form in order to capture the wage profiles of industrial workers in the past. The quadratic spline consistently provides the best fit while the standard quadratic produces misleading estimates of wage changes and gender wage gaps. These conclusions hold across contexts, for men and women, and for both age and experience profiles. Our results have methodological relevance for estimating historical wage profiles but also have implications for the assessment of gender wage gaps in the past.

Burnette, J. & Stanfors, M. (2015). Estimating historical wage profiles. Historical Methods, 48(2): 35-51

DOI: 10.1080/01615440.2014.94769 


The role of social class in fertility transition in Southern Sweden

The dominating focus on the macro level in previous research on the fertility transition means that to a large extent we lack knowledge about details of the decline and empirical tests of the leading explanatory frameworks. Our aim in this study is to explore socioeconomic fertility differentials in an industrializing community, to gain insight about the details and discuss possible mechanisms. The study starts well before industrialization and finishes at the end of the transition. We use longitudinal individual-level data from the Scanian Economic-Demographic Database (SEDD), which contains demographic as well as socioeconomic information, including occupation, landholding, and income. In the analysis we use hazard regressions with shared frailty at the family level. The transition involved not only parity-specific stopping but also spacing. While the upper social strata had higher fertility prior to the transition, they started to control their fertility earlier, by the 1880s, and also more consistently. Farmers, the middle class, and skilled workers followed in the decades after, and unskilled workers with some additional delay.

Bengtsson, T, Dribe, M (2014) “The historical fertility transition at the micro level: Southern Sweden 1815-1939”, Demographic Research, Vol. 30, No. 17, pp. 493-533. On-line link:


Height  and Earnings. The Role of Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills

Register data on 450,000 Swedish males who underwent mandatory military enlistment at age 18, and a subsample of 150,000 siblings, are used to examine why tall people earn more. The results show the importance of both cognitive and noncognitive skills, as well as family background and muscular strength for the height-earnings relationship. In addition, it is shown that a substantial height premium remains after these factors have been accounted for, which originates from very short people having low earnings. This is mostly explained by the sorting of short people into low-paid occupations, which may indicate discrimination by stature.

Lundborg P, Nystedt P, Rooth DO. (2014). "Height  and Earnings. The Role of Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills" (with Paul Nystedt and Dan-Olof Rooth), Journal of Human Resources, vol 49(1), pp 141-166. On-line link:


Social class and fertility in the fertility transition: a comparative study

Micro-level data from the censuses of 1900 are used to investigate the impact of socio-economic status on net fertility during the fertility transition in five Northern American and European countries (Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the USA). The results show highly similar patterns across countries, with the elite and upper middle classes having considerably lower net fertility early in the transition. These patterns remain after controlling for a range of individual and community-level fertility determinants and geographical unobserved heterogeneity.

Dribe, M., Hacker, D.H. and Scalone, F. (2014). The impact of socio-economic status on net fertility during the historical fertility decline: A comparative analysis of Canada, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and the USA. Population Studies, published online April 1, 2014. On-line link:


Is intermarriage good for earnings?

In this article we look at the impact of intermarriage on the economic integration of immigrants in Sweden, measured by annual earnings. We use longitudinal register data for the period 1990–2009 for the total population of immigrant men born 1960–1974. The results reveal large intermarriage premiums, but overall this seems to be a result of selection effects as most of the premium is visible already at the time of marriage. For the most economically marginalized immigrants, however, an intermarriage premium arises within marriage implying that forming a union with a native triggers a more rapid earnings growth among them.

Dribe, M. and Nystedt, P. (2014). Is there an Intermarriage Premium for Male Immigrants? Exogamy and Earnings in Sweden 1990–2009, International Migration Review, published online April 3, 2014. On-line link:


 Short- and medium term economic consequences of the Spanish Flu

We study the impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic on economic performance in Sweden. The pandemic was one of the severest and deadliest pandemics in human history, but it has hitherto received only scant attention in the economic literature – despite representing an unparalleled labour supply shock. In this paper, we exploit seemingly exogenous variation in incidence rates between Swedish regions to estimate the impact of the pandemic. The pandemic led to a significant increase in poverty rates. There is also evidence that capital returns were negatively affected by the pandemic. However, we find no discernible effect on earnings.

Karlsson, M., T. Nilson, and S. Pichler (2014). The Impact of the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic on Economic Performance in Sweden - An Investigation into the Consequences of an Extraordinary Mortality Shock. Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming. On-line link:


Certain welfare state regimes preserve gendered time use patterns more than others

Having young children generally intensifies gendered patterns of time use. During the 1990s this pattern changed in several Nordic countries, where welfare state arrangements support gender equality and work-family balance more comprehensively than elsewhere. By using data from the Multinational Time Use Surveys (MTUS) for Germany, Italy and Canada, we find convergence of men’s and women’s time use over the 1990s, but uncover no strong evidence of the Nordic pattern emerging elsewhere. In countries with less comprehensive family policies and less support for gender equality, parenthood continued to reinforce traditional patterns of behavior on weekdays.

Neilson, J. & Stanfors, M. (2014). It’s about time! Gender, parenthood and household divisions of labor under different welfare regimes. Journal of Family Issues. DOI:10.1177/0192513X14522240. On-line link:


Educational heterogamy and the division of paid labour

This study builds on the long-standing theoretical interest in the importance of comparative advantages between partners for the division of paid labour in the family, using pooled cross-sectional data of EU-SILC 2004–2008. Contrary to expectations, we find that comparative advantages between partners, as measured by educational heterogamy, are of only minor importance for determining the couple’s division of paid labour in such diverse countries as Belgium and Sweden. Our results show that women’s relative labour market participation is less education-driven in Sweden than in Belgium, and is more related to the life cycle effect of the presence of (young) children, confirming more egalitarianism and family friendliness in Scandinavia than in continental Europe.

Eeckhaut, M. C. W., Stanfors, M. & Van de Putte, B. (2014). Educational heterogamy and the division of paid labour in the family: A comparison of present-day Belgium and Sweden. European Sociological Review 30: 64–75.  Available online at, DOI:10.1093/esr/jct022


Small babies run higher risks of bad health in later life

Early exiting from the labor force and into disability pension (DP) represents a major social problem in Sweden and elsewhere. This paper examines how being asymmetric (A-SGA) or symmetric (S-SGA) small for gestational age predicts transitioning into DP. The evidence presented suggests that being A-SGA influences the risk of DP, independent of childhood and adulthood conditions, and similarly for men and women.

Helgertz, J. & Vågerö, D. (2014). Small for gestational age and adulthood risk of disability pension: The contribution of childhood and adulthood conditions. Social Science and Medicine. On-line link:


Educational homogamy and earnings in Sweden 1990-2009

This article studies the connection between educational assortative mating and gender-specific earnings in a sample containing the entire Swedish population born 1960–1974. We find that being partnered with someone with more education (hypergamy) is associated with higher earnings, while partnering someone with less education (hypogamy) is associated with lower earnings. However, most of the differences are explained by selection processes, rather than being causal effects

Dribe, M. & Nystedt, P. (2013). Educational Homogamy and Gender-Specific Earnings: Sweden 1990-2009.” Demography 50:1197–1216. On-line link: