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.

Patient cost-sharing, socioeconomic status, and children's health care utilization

This paper estimates the effect of cost-sharing on the demand for children’s and adolescents’ use of medical care. We use a large population-wide registry dataset including detailed information on contacts with the health care system as well as family income. Two different estimation strategies are used: regression discontinuity design exploiting age thresholds above which fees are charged, and difference-in-differences models exploiting policy changes. We also estimate combined regression discontinuity difference-in-differences models that take into account discontinuities around age thresholds caused by factors other than cost-sharing. We find that when care is free of charge, individuals increase their number of doctor visits by 5–10%. Effects are similar in middle childhood and adolescence, and are driven by those from low-income families. The differences across income groups cannot be explained by other factors that correlate with income, such as maternal education.

Nilsson A, Paul A (2018). Patient cost-sharing, socioeconomic status, and children’s health care utilization. Journal of Health Economics.

Smoking and early retirement due to chronic disability

This paper considers the long-term effects of smoking on disability retirement in Sweden. Smoking is known to have damaging effects on health, but there is limited evidence on how the effects of smoking translate into worse labour market outcomes, such as the inability to work. In contrast to the few previous studies on smoking and disability retirement, we use a large population sample with registry information on smoking, which is recorded for all women who give birth in Sweden. Thanks to these comprehensive data, we are able to account for a much broader range of potential confounders. In particular, by the use of sibling and twin fixed effects, we account for unobserved heterogeneity in childhood environment and family characteristics. Given that smoking is often initiated in adolescence, one would suspect such factors to play important roles. Among individuals aged 50–64 in 2011, a simple model suggested smokers to have a 5 percentage point higher probability of receiving (full) disability pension, making them more than twice as likely as nonsmokers to receive this. However, in a model with sibling fixed effects, the size of the effect was reduced by more than a third. The results point to the importance of confounders, such as childhood circumstances or behaviours, which were not accounted for by previous studies. We also consider effects on disability due to different health conditions. In relative terms, effects are the largest for circulatory conditions and tumours. Results are largely driven by health problems severe enough to merit hospitalization, and there is no evidence of a role played by financial incentives.

Bengtsson T, Nilsson A (2018). Smoking and early retirement due to chronic disability. Economics and Human Biology.

Industrialization is associated with changes in gender roles – both productive and reproductive – across countries

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 (including Parsons, Becker, and Goode), which posited that with industrialization, family structures and activities would converge towards the nuclear family with strict gender roles. This paper examines the major trends unraveling the gender division of family support and care that reached its peak in the mid-20th century, often called the ‘worker-carer’ or the ‘separate spheres’ model, by comparing the experiences of Sweden and the United States. We use data that includes time series of macro-level demographic and economic indicators, together with cross-sectional data from censuses and time use surveys. 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. By doing a comparative, in-depth analysis, the paper makes a contribution to the literature in that it becomes clear that the extreme role specialization within the couple that divided caring from ‘work,’ though theoretically important, applied only for a limited period in Northern Europe and the United States, however important it might be in other regions.

Stanfors M, Goldscheider F (2017). The forest and the trees: Industrialization, demographic change, and the ongoing gender revolution in Sweden and the United States, 1870–2010. Demographic Research.

Modern dual-earner families spend more, and not less, time together

In recent decades, mothers' increased employment, the rise of dual-earner couples, and a growing sense of overwork have raised valid concerns about how time is spent within the family. Increased work hours have been associated with greater perceived partner and family time pressures for working men and women, and dual-earner, full-time working couples spend less time together than other couple types. Although some evidence suggests that the time couples spend exclusively together has come under duress, time as a family and with children, has seemingly been preserved, at the cost of mothers' free time. These developments coincide with a rise of intensive parenting norms, where both qualitative and quantitative research report that parents have been spending more time with their children while cutting back on partner time.

In this study, we investigated time allocations of partnered men and women across the following four dimensions using time diary data from three waves of the Swedish Time Use Survey (SWETUS): time spent alone, with one's partner, with children only, and as a family. This multidimensional approach better illustrates the trends and trade-offs of with whom men and women in partnerships spend their time. In a secondary analysis, we examined five types of activities performed in the presence of one's partner to determine how shared time has changed qualitatively. Our central research question is whether an advanced dual-earner society increasingly substitutes paid work for time spent with family members, which we investigated by means of understanding how and why time allocation along different dimensions has changed in the past decades. We add to the literature by establishing how multiple dimensions of time allocations changed between 1990 and 2010 in Sweden for a nationally representative sample of coupled (i.e., cohabiting or married) men and women, complementing research on spousal interaction from the United States, with most studies looking at partner time in isolation among married couples only. OLS and decomposition analyses find a trend towards time together over time alone, with childless couples spending similar time together and parents increasing family time. The shift towards family time evolved differently for men and women, indicating gender convergence in private and public spheres, but at higher costs of time alone for women. Change is behavioral and general, applying quite equally across gender and educational groups. There are educational gradients concerning time with children and certain qualitative aspects of time together, indicating that dual-earner society may be family-friendly, but not equally for all.

Taken together with other results respecting family dynamics in Sweden, this study's results indicate that gender equality is conducive to family life once a nation reaches a certain level of gender equality where men's and women's economic roles are comparable. Then an increasing role-sharing implies that more shared time is valued and thus freed up, thereby reducing the scarcity of family time, as others have argued. In Sweden, institutional support through general policy, services, and financial subsidies, such as quality day care and afterschool facilities, cover many hours of the day that parents (typically mothers) otherwise would have spent on routine activities and the supervision of their children. The lesser time available incentivizes people to share it rather than to spend it alone.

Neilson J, Stanfors M (2017). Time Alone or Together? Trends and Tradeoffs among Dual-earner Couples, Sweden 1990-2010. Journal of Marriage and Family.

Importance of the Geocoding Level for Historical Demographic Analyses: A Case Study of Rural Parishes in Sweden, 1850–1914

Geocoding longitudinal and individual-level historical demographic databases enables novel analyses of how micro-level geographic factors affected demographic outcomes over long periods. However, such detailed geocoding involves high costs. Additionally, the high spatial resolution cannot be properly utilized if inappropriate methods are used to quantify the geographic factors. We assess how different geocoding levels and methods used to define geographic variables affects the outcome of detailed spatial and historical demographic analyses. Using a longitudinal and individual-level demographic database geocoded at the property unit level, we analyse the effects of population density and proximity to wetlands on all-cause mortality for individuals who lived in five Swedish parishes, 1850–1914. We compare the results from analyses on three detailed geocoding levels using two common quantification methods for each geographic variable. Together with the method selected for quantifying the geographic factors, even small differences in positional accuracy (20–50 m) between the property units and slightly coarser geographic levels heavily affected the results of the demographic analyses. The results also show the importance of accounting for geographic changes over time. Finally, proximity to wetlands and population density affected the mortality of women and children, respectively. However, all possible determinants of mortality were not evaluated in the analyses. In conclusion, for rural historical areas, geocoding to property units is likely necessary for fine-scale analyses at distances within a few hundred metres. We must also carefully consider the quantification methods that are the most logical for the geographic context and the type of analyses.

Hedefalk F, Pantazatou K, Quaranta L, Harrie L (2017) Importance of the geocoding level for historical demographic analyses: A case study of rural parishes in Sweden, 1850–1914. Spatial Demography.

Inequality and demographic response to short-term economic stress in North Orkney, Scotland, 1855–1910: Sector differences

We examine economic inequality and social differences in infant and child mortality, and fertility responses to food price changes in North Orkney, 1855–1910, using linked vital records. This small population featured a diverse occupational structure, limited land resources, and geographic isolation from mainland Scotland. Segments of Orkney’s non-agricultural working population were living so close to the margin of subsistence in normal years that an increase in food prices in bad years cost the lives of their children. Thus delayed childbearing, in addition to increased labour intensity, occupational diversification, and poor relief, failed to mitigate the negative effects of unfavourable prices in this group. While previous studies for Western Europe show a strong social gradient in mortality responses to food prices, and for Eastern Asia a strong household gradient, this study shows a strong sectoral gradient, indicating low standards of living for the non-agricultural working population well into the twentieth century.

Jennings J A, Quaranta L, Bengtsson T (2017) Inequality and demographic response to short-term economic stress in North Orkney, Scotland, 1855–1910: Sector differences. Population Studies.

Age Homogamy, Gender, and Earnings: Sweden 1990–2009. Social Forces

Previous research has shown considerable marriage premiums in earnings for men, but often penalties for women of being in a union. In this study we extend this research by analyzing how the age difference between spouses affects the earnings profiles by gender. As we follow people over time in advance as well as within their marriage, we can separate premarital from postmarital earnings movements. The data consist of information on annual earnings 1990–2009 for all Swedes born 1960–1974 (N = 926,219). The results indicate that age homogamy is related to higher earnings for both men and women, and that larger age differences are generally associated with lower union premiums, quite independently of which spouse is older. However, most of these results are explained by assortative mating, in which men and women with greater earnings potentials find partners of a similar age. Overall, the age difference between spouses seems to have a limited causal effect, if any, on individual earnings.

Dribe M, Nystedt P (2017). Age Homogamy, Gender, and Earnings: Sweden 1990–2009. Social Forces.

Spatiotemporal historical datasets at micro-level for geocoded individuals in five Swedish parishes, 1813–1914

This paper presents datasets that enable historical longitudinal studies of micro-level geographic factors in a rural setting. These types of datasets are new, as historical demography studies have generally failed to properly include the micro-level geographic factors. Our datasets describe the geography over five Swedish rural parishes, and by linking them to a longitudinal demographic database, we obtain a geocoded population (at the property unit level) for this area for the period 1813–1914. The population is a subset of the Scanian Economic Demographic Database (SEDD). The geographic information includes the following feature types: property units, wetlands, buildings, roads and railroads. The property units and wetlands are stored in object-lifeline time representations (information about creation, changes and ends of objects are recorded in time), whereas the other feature types are stored as snapshots in time. Thus, the datasets present one of the first opportunities to study historical spatio-temporal patterns at the micro-level.

Hedefalk F, Svensson P, Harrie L (2017) Spatiotemporal historical datasets at micro-level for geocoded individuals in five Swedish parishes, 1813–1914. Nature Research Journal.

Unequal lands: Soil type, nutrition, and child mortality in southern Sweden, 1850-1914

Child mortality differed greatly within rural regions in Europe before and during the mortality transition. Little is known about the role of nutrition in such geographic differences, and about the factors affecting the nutritional status and hence the disease outcomes. Focusing on nutrition, we analyse the effects of soil type, used as an indicator of the farm-level agricultural productivity and hence of nutritional status, on mortality of children aged 1–15 living in five rural parishes in southern Sweden, 1850–1914. Using longitudinal demographic data combined with unique geographic microdata on residential histories, the effect of soil type on mortality risks are analysed considering as outcome all-cause mortality and mortality from nonairborne and airborne infectious diseases. Soil type primarily affected the mortality of farmers’ children, but not labourers’ children. Particularly, farmers’ children residing in areas with very high proportions of clayey till (75–100% coverage) experienced lower risks of dying compared to children residing in areas with other soil types such as clay and sandy soils. Certain soil types seem to have influenced agricultural productivity, which in turn affected the nutrition of farmers’ children and thus their likelihood of dying. The results indicate the relatively important role of nutrition as a mortality predictor for these children. As, to our knowledge, the first longitudinal study at the microlevel that analyses the effects of soil type on mortality in a historical rural society, we contribute to the literature on the role of nutrition on the risk of dying in a preindustrial society.

Hedefalk F, Quaranta L, Bengtsson T (2017). Unequal lands: Soil type, nutrition and child mortality in southern Sweden, 1850-1914. Demographic Research.

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

By using historical data on about 50,000 twins born in Sweden during 1886–1958, we demonstrate a positive and statistically significant relationship between years of schooling and longevity. This relation remains almost unchanged when exploiting a twin fixed-effects design to control for the influence of genetics and shared family background. This result is robust to controlling for within-twin-pair differences in early-life health and cognitive ability, as proxied by birth weight and height, as well as to restricting the sample to MZ twins. The relationship is fairly constant over time but becomes weaker with age. Literally, our results suggest that compared with low levels of schooling (less than 10 years), high levels of schooling (at least 13 years of schooling) are associated with about three years longer life expectancy at age 60 for the considered birth cohorts. The real societal value of schooling may hence extend beyond pure labor market and economic growth returns. From a policy perspective, schooling may therefore be a vehicle for improving longevity and health, as well as equality along these dimensions.

Lundborg P, Lyttkens C H, Nystedt P (2016). The Effect of Schooling on Mortality: New Evidence From 50,000 Swedish Twins. Demography.

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

The fertility decline during the demographic transition is often viewed within the frameworks of innovation and adjustment. According to the innovation perspective, this process is mostly driven by the diffusion of new knowledge and attitudes, whereas in the adaptationist perspective fertility decline is seen primarily as an adaptation to changing circumstances. In this contribution, we present models that allow us to simulate fertility declines that are solely driven by the diffusion of information structured by social and spatial variation in communication links. Using these models, we explore the question of whether observed social and spatiotemporal patterns of the fertility transition could be shaped by communication processes alone. The potential of these models is explored in a case study of Sweden. We run simulations on a full individual-level sample of the married female population aged 20–49 in 1880, which is around the time when the fertility transition started in Sweden. The population is divided into three social classes (elite, farmers, workers and others). As proxies for communication links, we use migration links. The simulation outcomes are contrasted with the observed fertility decline patterns in Sweden between 1880 and 1900. Our simulations demonstrate that communication structured by social and spatial variation in communication links could have shaped a substantial share of the observed social class and spatiotemporal characteristics of the fertility decline during the demographic transition.

Klüsener S, Scalone F, Dribe M (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.

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.

Did social mobility increase during the industrialization process? A micro-level study of a transforming 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.

Dribe M, Helgertz J, van de Putte B (2015). 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.

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.

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.

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. Journal of Human Resources.

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, 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.

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, Nystedt P (2014). Is there an Intermarriage Premium for Male Immigrants? Exogamy and Earnings in Sweden 1990–2009. International Migration Review.

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, Nilson T, Pichler S (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.

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.

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.

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

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.