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The effect of public policies on recent Swedish fertility behavior


In the literature the recent upsurge in period birth rates is seen as evidence of a pronatalist effect of Sweden's extensive social insurance programs. Yet, these explanations can not account for the downturn in birth rates in the 1970s, the delay in childbearing, and the constancy of cohort birth rates which characterize recent Swedish fertility behavior. To summarize the effect of Sweden's economic and policy environment on the observed fertility patterns, I use a neoclassical economic framework to develop the shadow price of fertility. Although strong simplifying assumptions are imposed, the estimated price series exhibit a negative relationship with period fertility rates and the change in the estimated relative prices of fertility over the life cycle lend modest support for the delayed childbearing.

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The first draft of this paper was written while I was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution. The research was supported by grants number HD-19226 and HD-28685 from the National Institute of Child Health and Development. I thank Glen Cain, John Kerman, Tom MaCurdy, Duncan Thomas, Michael Tilkin, and seminar participants at University of Illinois, Hoover Institution, and University of Wisconsin for useful comments.

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Walker, J.R. The effect of public policies on recent Swedish fertility behavior. J Popul Econ 8, 223–251 (1995).

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  • Public Policy
  • Negative Relationship
  • Social Insurance
  • Policy Environment
  • Cohort Birth