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Nuclear families make comeback in Sweden

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Nuclear families make comeback in Sweden
16:43 CEST+02:00
The traditional nuclear family has made a recovery in the past decade, according to Statistics Sweden (SCB), with fewer children experiencing divorce and more being born with only full siblings.

"Indications are that child families have become more stable during the 2000s. We have looked at the reasons for this," Lotta Persson, who has published an analysis together with Johan Tollebrant in the SCB magazine Välfärd, told The Local.

Persson and Tollebrant's article is based on two reports - "Barn, föräldrar och separationer" (Literally: "Children, parents and separations") and "Barnafödande i nya relationer" ("Childbirth in new relationships"), which are based on SCB demographic statistics from 2013.

The pair observed that the late 1990s witnessed a decrease in the birthrate and an increase in divorce and separations with researchers citing the greater economic power and independence of women as a causal factor.

"Particularly the report on half-siblings indicates not only a decline in separations but also that couples that stay together are having more children," Lotta Persson told The Local.

The proportion of children who had experienced a parental separation declined steadily from the end of the 1990s to 2006 when parents to 2.8 percent of Sweden's children (around 40,000 at the time) went their separate ways.

The development since 2006 has been more mixed but has remained at a lower level than at the beginning of the 2000s, the SCB figures show.

Furthermore over the past decade more children have been born into families with only full siblings, and the proportion of children being born with half-siblings declined from 20 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2011.

Persson named a slew of statistical factors that could explain these twin developments: older first-time mothers, higher educated parents, more foreign-born parents, and differences in the number of siblings.

The conclusion is drawn, however, that statistics can only go so far in explaining the changes and Persson cites greater equality as one explanatory factor that links the 1990s and the 2000s, if for very different reasons.

"There are different types of equality. The first stage, which began in the 1960s, shook the balance of families, that part we have passed now. We are now in stage two where equality also increases in the home, giving a new balance," she said.

Persson and Tollebrant cite researchers such as US academic France K. Goldscheider to back up their conclusion that men taking a greater share of household chores and that child-raising has eased domestic tension.

"There is greater harmony. The fact that more couples are having a third child indicates this," Persson said.

The trend is furthermore linked to other statistical changes, such as the increasing popularity of marriage and a decline in the proportion of women without children.

"These changes could be a reflection of changing attitudes towards a more family-orientated development. Other studies of young people furthermore show that they value the family highly," Persson told The Local.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

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