• Sweden edition
 
Smaller families succeed more: Swedish study

Smaller families succeed more: Swedish study

Published: 29 Aug 2012 07:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Aug 2012 07:16 GMT+02:00

Providing scientific support to what is anecdotal evidence, it says that in an advanced industrialised society, having fewer offspring means children benefit from greater parental investment and from inherited capital.

This translates into socio-economic success, which is transmitted over generations, the paper says. Scientists from London and Stockholm pored over a remarkable database which assessed 14,000 people born in Sweden between 1915 and 1929 and all their descendants up to 2009.

Families that were smaller and from more prosperous backgrounds were linked to better grades at school, a university education and a higher income and social status, they found.

The benefits were greatest when the parents were also in a high socio-economic category. The advantages were enduring, because they carried over the four generations which were studied.

In the modern world, fertility rates -- the number of offspring per woman -- decline as a country becomes more prosperous, a phenomenon called the demographic transition.

The trend occurs first and most substantially among wealthier sections of society.

"One of our most interesting findings is that being from an initially wealthy household makes the benefits of small family size even bigger," said David Lawson, an anthropologist at University College London.

"Poorer households in contrast have relatively little to gain by limiting fertility, perhaps because the success of their children is more determined by broader societal factors, rather than investment and inheritance from parents, which is in short supply."

The research, published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, touches on a keenly-debated aspect of Darwinian theory, said lead author Anna Goodman of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

"It's been a puzzle for evolutionary biologists," Goodman said.

"It's not what you would expect, because as a species gets more resources, it has more offspring." In this case, lower fertility was a success -- but in socio-economic terms, not in reproductive terms.

In the study, the first generation had an average of 3.2 children; their children had 1.7 offspring; the grandchildren had 1.8 children; and the great-grandchildren, as of 2009, had an average of 0.7 offspring.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

08:41 August 29, 2012 by azimuth
Obvious things as usual. "British scientists" phenomenon in its pinnacle :D
08:42 August 29, 2012 by skogsbo
also the fact that if both parents are working, they represent working role models for the children. A working women will probably have less children than a stay at home mum, because of the desire to continue their career and bring the family income back up to the pre children level. Where as a stay at home mum, can continue to justify their lifestyle, by having a child every 2 or 3 years. But, clearly by having a big family, the time invested in them individually is rationed.
09:25 August 29, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
This is nothing new. Many books have cited this as evidence as to Europe's economic miracle, going back thousands of years. When Europe had castles, guns, science, writing, etc. many other civilizations were still throwing spears. While this is not the only reason to the Success of Europe and Sweden, it's a contributing factor.
09:46 August 29, 2012 by Swedishmyth
Did they control for nationality? If not, the conclusion might as well be "children of Western parents succeed more.", which would be a reasonable one.

Having fewer children is not the cause of prosperity; it's an effect of it.
11:27 August 29, 2012 by Dr. Dillner
@Swedishmyth

Excellent, drawing a relation between cause and effect!
12:07 August 29, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
Well to counter that a bit, people with fewer children have less capital outlays of which they can put to more efficient use, like investing, starting a company, etc. When you have 4 kids, you need a big flat, increased medical, food, etc. expenses, so your net savings is so small as to not put it towards any capital multiplying uses. So to put it simply, more children lead to more expenses and less money to make money.
12:55 August 29, 2012 by Swedishmyth
Then would you say that African or Middle-Eastern families would suddenly become prosperous if they were to have no more than two children? That wouldn't happen, especially in Sweden where child support is not only unlimited with regard to the number of children per family, but escalating per child rather than descending.

For productive people the number of children is a matter of preference, not necessity. They are not in the business of raising unpaid farm workers, nor do they stand to gain from making child support receptacles and feeding them ramen for a net gain in "income".
15:29 August 29, 2012 by millionmileman
Most Families in Europe average around 1.2 children per family because the wizards of smart (the educated elite) have taxed everyone into oblivion that makes having a decent sized family almost an impossibility.

Tell this to Mitt Romney who started from scratch to raise 5 sons with his wife Anne and he is a remarkably smart and successful man.
17:26 August 29, 2012 by prince T
Interesting find. having smaller family leads to prosperity. They forget to add that it is bad for the economy. Why do countries with smaller families like sweden and canada to look for immigrants to fill the population.
Today's headlines
Getinge Floods
Rain to continue 'all week' as flood worsens
Photo: Anders Andersson/TT

Rain to continue 'all week' as flood worsens

UPDATED: Sweden's weather agency issued a severe weather warning for the extreme rains and flooding in southern Sweden, adding that the rains are likely to continue all week. READ  

Sweden and the Bronx
Swedes celebrate 375th anniversary of the Bronx
The Bronx. Photo:Shutterstock.

Swedes celebrate 375th anniversary of the Bronx

What do the Bronx and Sweden have in common? More than an affiliation with the Yankees, it turns out. And one small Swedish town is about to make that abundantly clear. READ  

Bildt: 'We must increase efforts in Iraq'
Bildt in Baghdad on Monday. Photo: Karim Kadim/TT

Bildt: 'We must increase efforts in Iraq'

After meeting with refugees and politicians in Iraq on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said Sweden must increase its efforts to help Iraq reach a lasting solution. READ  

Swedes slam 'racist' art show from Denmark
One of the participants in the art project. Photo: Anna Andrea Malzer, Global Stories

Swedes slam 'racist' art show from Denmark

Swedes have gathered in numbers to protest against a Danish "blackface" art show in Malmö, which organizers say is supposed to give "a deeper understanding of discrimination". READ  

Presented by Stockholm School of Economics
Swedish school with executive appeal
Photo: Stockholm School of Economics

Swedish school with executive appeal

More and more executives are combining work with further education, namely an MBA. The Local explains just how the process works at the Stockholm School of Economics with its Executive MBA program. READ  

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Fastighetsbyrån

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

Ever wanted to live in a loft-like apartment on the hip district of Södermalm, with a view like something out of a colourful children's book? Check out The Local's Property of the Week. READ  

Sweden to get 100,000 refugees in 2014: report
Refugees in Iraq. Photo: Khalid Mohammed/TT

Sweden to get 100,000 refugees in 2014: report

UPDATED: Sweden can expect a record-breaking 100,000 refugees to arrive this year, reported Swedish media on Tuesday. The Migration Board said the prognosis was officially 60,000 in July. READ  

Swedish town on alert over toilet invader
The man pictured is not the Bajsmannen. Photo:Shutterstock.

Swedish town on alert over toilet invader

A town in central Sweden is on the lookout after a mystery suspect has repeatedly broken into apartments and defecated in their toilets. READ  

Riksbank: We must take action on household debt
Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Riksbank: We must take action on household debt

The Swedish economy is beginning to recover after several difficult years - but the risk for household indebtedness remains high, Swedish Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves warned. READ  

Assange extradition battle
'Assange to stay put until US guarantee': lawyer
Photo: John Stillwell/TT

'Assange to stay put until US guarantee': lawyer

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for rape allegations, has made it clear he will not leave the Ecuador embassy in London until it is guaranteed he will not be extradited to the US. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Society
Serial chicken smuggler caught at Norway border. Again.
Society
This gold coin may be the key to solving a Swedish massacre
Shutterstock
Lifestyle
The Swedish mentor (and why you may need one)
National
Food agency warns girls: 'Don't eat stinky fish'
Blog updates

17 August

Sea Fever (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I’m going to keep this post short and sweet as its not something I take any pleasure in writing. After much deliberation I have made the heartbreaking decision to abandon my trip after 1200km due to reoccurring injury. It is not a decision I have made lightly and it is one that has been truly devastating..." READ »

 

17 August

St. Louis strong (Blogweiser) »

"It’s typically a bad sign when my hometown makes news in Sweden. St. Louis was in the headlines here a few years ago when a tornado struck the airport. The city also caught attention after a politician talked about ‘legitimate rape’. Now, shooting and riots this week in Ferguson, a part of St. Louis, are..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
Reinfeldt calls for tolerance to refugees
Gallery
People-watching August 16-17
National
Sweden celebrates 200 years of peace
Society
Top ten literal Swedish words
Politics
'Terror training should be illegal': Liberal Party
Gallery
Swedes talk about 200 years of national peace
Politics
Islamic extremist shakes Sweden with TV threat
National
Teacher fined for 'Hitler salute' in German class
Politics
Swedish politician proposes ban on begging
National
Swede asks for epidural and gets disinfectant
National
Swede reports 'expensive' sex to police
Education
Sweden plans to scrap SFI for adult education
Features
Kiruna residents talk life in a town on the move
TT
Politics
Why is feminism such a hot topic in Sweden?
National
Swedish dad takes kids to Israel to learn about war
National
RIP Åle, the world's oldest eel
Society
Introducing: The Swedish crayfish party
National
Stockholm bus spontaneously combusts
Travel
Top five tips for climbing Sweden's tallest mountain
Skatteverket
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

663
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se