Work and Childbearing Intentions from a Capability Perspective: Young Adult Women in Sweden

  • Susanne Fahlén
  • Livia Sz. Oláh
Part of the Work and Welfare in Europe book series (RECOWE)


Since the late 1960s, female labour force participation increased substantially nearly everywhere in Europe. For women aged 20–44 years, the participation rate increased from an average of 50 per cent in 1970 to nearly 80 per cent in 2000, large cross-country differences notwithstanding (Ferrarini, 2006). High or increasing female employment rates have been seen, in turn, as the main reason for low fertility (Becker, 1991), based on the incompatibility of motherhood, that is childrearing and paid work, in industrialised societies (Brewster and Rindfuss, 2000). Indeed, the aggregate-level relationship between women’s labour force participation and fertility was negative until the mid- or late 1980s, although the causality is unclear (Bernhardt, 1993; Engelhardt et al., 2004). Then the relationship turned into a positive one (Castles, 2003; see also Hobson and Oláh, 2006a, 2006b for an overview of relevant studies).


Labour Force Participation Parental Leave Capability Approach Perceive Behavioural Control Temporary Employment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ahrne, G. and C. Roman (1997) Hemmet, barnen och makten: förhandlingar om arbete och pengar i familjen (Stockholm: Fritzes).Google Scholar
  2. Ajzen, I. (1991) ‘The Theory of Planned Behavior’, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ajzen, I. and M. Fishbein (2005) ‘The Influence of Attitudes on Behaviour’, in D. Albarracín, B. T. Johnson and M. P. Zanna (eds) The Handbook of Attitudes (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum), 173–221.Google Scholar
  4. Anand, P., G. Hunter, I. Carter, K. Dowding, F. Guala and M. van Hees (2009) ‘The Development of Capability Indicators’, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 10 (1), 125–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anand, P., G. Hunter and R. Smith (2005) ‘Capabilities and Well-Being: Evidence Based on Sen-Nussbaum Approach to Welfare’, Social Indicators Research, 74 (1), 9–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Andersson, G. (2000) ‘The Impact of Labour-Force Participation on Childbearing Behaviour: Pro-Cyclical Fertility in Sweden During the 1980s and the 1990s’, European Journal of Population, 16 (4), 293–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Andersson, G., J. Hoem and A.-Z. Duvander (2006) ‘Social Differentials in Speed-Premium Effects in Childbearing in Sweden’, Demographic Research, 14 (4), 51–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Anxo, D., L. Flood, L. Mencarini, A. Pailhé, A. Solaz and M. L. Tanturri (2007) Time Allocation between Work and Family over the Life-Cycle: A Comparative Gender Analysis of Italy, France, Sweden and the United States (Bonn: Institute for the Study of Labour).Google Scholar
  9. Arbetsförmedlingen [Swedish Public Employment Service] (2011) Fakta om arbetslöshetsersättningen [Facts about the Unemployment Benefit], (accessed 3 June 2011).Google Scholar
  10. Baude, A. (ed.) (1992) Visionen om jämställdhet [Visions of Gender Equality] (Stockholm: SNS).Google Scholar
  11. Becker, G. (1991) A Treatise on the Family, Enlarged Edition (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  12. Bergqvist, C. and A. Nyberg (2002) ‘Welfare State Restructuring and Child Care in Sweden’, in S. Michel and R. Mahon (eds) Child Care Policy at the Crossroads: Gender and Welfare State Restructuring (New York and London: Routledge), 287–307.Google Scholar
  13. Bernhardt, E. (1993) ‘Fertility and Employment’, European Sociological Review, 9 (1), 25–42.Google Scholar
  14. Billari, F. C., D. Philipov and M. R. Testa (2009) ‘Attitudes, Norms and Perceived Behavioural Control: Explaining Fertility Intentions in Bulgaria’, European Journal of Population, 25 (4), 439–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bracher, M. and G. Santow (1991) ‘Fertility Desires and Fertility Outcomes’, Journal of the Australian Population Association, 8 (1), 33–49.Google Scholar
  16. Brewster, K. L. and R. R. Rindfuss (2000) ‘Fertility and Women’s Employment in Industrialized Nations’, Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 271–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bulatao, R. A. (1981) ‘Values and Disvalues of Children in Successive Childbearing Decisions’, Demography, 18(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Castles, F. G. (2003) ‘The World Turned Upside Down: Below Replacement Fertility, Changing Preferences and Family-Friendly Public Policy in 21 OECD Countries’, Journal of European Social Policy, 13 (3), 209–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Duvander, A.-Z. (2008) Family Policy in Sweden. Social Insurance Report 2008:15 (Stockholm: Försäkringskassan [Swedish Social Insurance Agency]).Google Scholar
  20. Duvander, A.-Z. and G. Andersson (2006) ‘Gender Equality and Fertility in Sweden: A Study on the Impact of the Father’s Uptake of Parental Leave on Continued Childbearing’, Marriage and Family Review, 39 (1/2), 121–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Engelhardt, H. (2004) ‘Fertility Intentions and Preferences: Effect of Structural and Financial Incentives and Constraints in Austria’, Vienna Institute of Demography Working Papers, Austrian Academy of Sciences, VID Working Paper 02/2004.Google Scholar
  22. Engelhardt, H., T. Kögel and A. Prskawetz (2004) ‘Fertility and Women’s Employment Reconsidered: A Macro-Level Time Series Analysis for Developed Countries, 1960–2000’, Population Studies, 58 (1), 109–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Engwall, K. and H. Peterson (eds) (2010) Frivillig barnlöshet-barnfrihet i en nordisk kontext [Voluntary Childlessness-Childfreedom in a Nordic Context] (Stockholm: Dialogos).Google Scholar
  24. European Social Survey (2004) Norwegian Social Science Data Services, (accessed 30 September 2011).Google Scholar
  25. Eurostat (2011) Employment and Unemployment (Labour Force Survey), (accessed 20 August 2011).Google Scholar
  26. Fagan, C. (2004) ‘Gender and Working-Time in Industrialized Countries’, in J. C. Messenger (ed.) Working-Time and Workers’ Needs and Preferences in Industrialized Countries: Finding the Balance (London: Routledge), 108–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fahey, T. and Zs. Spéder (2004) Fertility and Family Issues in an Enlarged Europe (Luxembourg: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions).Google Scholar
  28. Ferrarini, T. (2006) Families, States and Labour Markets: Institutions, Causes and Consequences of Family Policies in Post-War Welfare States (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fishbein, M. and I. Ajzen (1975) Belief, Attitude, Intention and Behavior: An Introduction to Theory and Research (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company).Google Scholar
  30. Försäkringskassan [Swedish Social Insurance Agency] (2005) ‘Föräldrapenning-att mäta hälften var’, Statistikrapport-försäkringsstatistik, Statistik, 2005: 1. (Stockholm: Försäkringskassan)Google Scholar
  31. Försäkringskassan [Swedish Social Insurance Agency] (2008) Parental Benefit, (accessed 12 February 2009).Google Scholar
  32. Försäkringskassan [Swedish Social Insurance Agency] (2010) Statistics. Föräldrapenning. Procentuell fördelning av uttagna nettodagar 2008 [Parental Leave Benefits. Proportional Distribution of Net-Day Uptake 2008],,225513&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL (accessed 2 June 2011).Google Scholar
  33. Försäkringskassan [Swedish Social Insurance Agency] (2011) Sjukpenninggrundande inkomst [Sickness Benefit Qualifying Annual Income], (accessed 17 May 2011).Google Scholar
  34. Goldscheider, F., L. Sz. Oláh and A. Puur (2010) ‘Reconciling Studies of Men’s Gender Attitudes and Fertility: Response to Westoff and Higgins’, Demographic Research, 22 (8), 189–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hagewen, K. J. and P. S. Morgan (2005) ‘Intended and Ideal Family Size in the United States, 1970–2002’, Population and Development Review, 31 (3), 507–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Heiland, F., A. Prskawetz and W. C. Sanderson (2005) ‘Do the More-Educated Prefer Smaller Families?’ Vienna Institute of Demography Working Papers, Austrian Academy of Sciences, VID Working Paper 03/2005.Google Scholar
  37. Hobcraft, J. and K. Kiernan (1995) Becoming a Parent in Europe, EAPS/IUSSP European Population Conference Proceedings, United Nations Population Information Network Milano, 4–8 September 1995.Google Scholar
  38. Hobson, B. (2011) ‘The Agency Gap in Work-Life Balance: Applying Sen’s Capabilities Framework within European Contexts’, Social Politics, 18 (2), 147–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hobson, B., A.-Z. Duvander and K. Halldén (2006) ‘Men and Women’s Agency and Capabilities to Create a Work-Life Balance in Diverse and Changing Institutional Contexts’, in J. Lewis (ed.) Children, Changing Families and Welfare States (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar), 267–297.Google Scholar
  40. Hobson, B. and S. Fahlén (2009) ‘Applying Sen’s Capabilities Framework within a European Context: Theoretical and Empirical Challenges’, RECWOWE Working Papers on Reconciliation of Work and Welfare in Europe, WP 03/2009, PUDISCwowe. (Edinburgh: The University of Edinburgh).Google Scholar
  41. Hobson, B. and S. Fahlén (2011). ‘Parent’s Work-Life Balance: Beyond Responsibilities and Obligations to Agency and Capabilities’, in J. Bridgeman, H. Keating and C. Lind (eds) Regulating Family Responsibilities (Farnham: Ashgate), 21–46.Google Scholar
  42. Hobson, B. and L. Sz. Oláh (2006a) ‘Tournant positif ou ‘grève des ventres’? Formes de résistance au modèle de l’homme gagne-pain et à la restructuration de l’État-providence’ [The Positive Turn or Birthstrikes? Sites of Resistance to Residual Male-Breadwinner Societies and to Welfare State Restructuring], Recherches et Prévisions, 83, 45–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hobson, B. and L. Sz. Oláh (2006b) ‘Birthstrikes? Agency and Capabilities in the Reconciliation of Employment and Family’, Journal of Marriage and the Family Review, 39 (3–4), 197–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hoem, B. and J. M. Hoem (1996) ‘Sweden’s Family Policies and Roller-Coaster Fertility’, Jinko Mondai Kenkyu, Journal of Population Problems, 52 (3–4), 1–22.Google Scholar
  45. Hoem, J. M. (1993) ‘Public Policy as the Fuel of Fertility: Effects of a Policy Reform on the Pace of Childbearing in Sweden in the 1980s’, Acta Sociologica, 36(1), 19–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hoem, J. M. (2005) ‘Why Does Sweden Have Such High Fertility?’ Demographic Research, 13 (22), 559–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Joshi, H. (1998) ‘The Opportunity Costs of Childbearing: More than Mother’s Business’, Journal of Population Economics, 11 (2), 161–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Korpi, W. (2000) ‘Faces of Inequality: Gender, Class, and Patterns of Inequalities in Different Types of Welfare States’, Social Politics, 7 (2), 127–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Livi-Bacci, M. (2001) ‘Comment: Desired Family Size and the Future Course of Fertility’, Population and Development Review, 27 (Supplement: Global Fertility Transition), 282–289.Google Scholar
  50. McDonald, P. (2002) ‘Sustaining Fertility through Public Policy: The Range of Options’, Population (English Edition), 57 (3), 417–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Montanari, I. (2003) ‘EU och svensk socialpolitik: Hur påverkas jämställdheten?’ in P. Blomqvist (ed.) Den gränslösa välfärdsstaten, Svensk socialpolitik i det nya Europa (Stockholm: Agora), 200–223.Google Scholar
  52. Montanari, I. (2009) ‘Europe, Women and Work: Is the “Adult Worker” Ideal Achieved?’ International Journal of Health Services, 39 (2), 245–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Morgan, P. S. (2003) ‘Is Low Fertility a Twenty-First-Century Demographic Crisis?’ Demography, 40 (4), 589–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Moss, P. (2009) ‘International Review of Leave Policies and Related Research 2009’, Employment Relation Research Series, 102 (London: Department for Business Innovation & Skills).Google Scholar
  55. Nauck, B. (2007) ‘Value of Children and the Framing of Fertility: Results from a Cross-Cultural Comparative Survey in 10 Societies’, European Sociological Review, 23 (5), 615–629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. OECD (2007) Social Policy Division-Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. Benefits and Wages, (accessed 27 October 2009).Google Scholar
  57. OECD (2009) Indicators of Employment Protection. Employment Protection in OECD and Selected non-OECD Countries in 2008, (accessed 23 October 2009).Google Scholar
  58. OECD.Stat (2010) Labour. Employment Protection. (accessed 24 May 2010).Google Scholar
  59. OECD.Stat (2011) Labour. Annual Labour Force Statistics. Employment Rates, (accessed 24 August 2011).Google Scholar
  60. Oláh, L. Sz. (2003) ‘Gendering Fertility: Second Births in Sweden and Hungary’, Population Research and Policy Review, 22 (2), 171–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Oláh, L. Sz. and E. M. Bernhardt (2008) ‘Sweden: Combining Childbearing and Gender Equality’, Demographic Research (Special Collection 7), 19 (28), 1105–1144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Oliveira Martins, J., R. Boarini, H. Strauss, C. De la Maisonneuve and C. Saadi (2007) ‘The Policy Determinants of Investment in Tertiary Education’, OECD Economics Department Working Papers, 576 (Paris: OECD Publishing).Google Scholar
  63. Parental Leave Act 1995:584, (accessed 12 February 2009).
  64. Philipov, D. (ed.) (2009) ‘Fertility Intensions and Outcomes: The Role of Policies to Close the Gap’, European Journal of Population, 25(4), 355–361.Google Scholar
  65. Philipov, D., Zs. Spéder and F. C. Billari (2006) ‘Soon, Later, or Ever? The Impact of Anomie and Social Capital on Fertility Intentions in Bulgaria (2002) and Hungary (2001)’, Population Studies, 60 (3), 289–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Plantenga, J. and C. Remery (eds) (2005) Reconciliation of Work and Private Life. A Comparative Review of Thirty European Countries (Luxemburg: European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities).Google Scholar
  67. Robeyns, I. (2003) ‘Sen’s Capability Approach and Gender Inequality: Selecting Relevant Capabilities’, Feminist Economics, 9 (2–3), 61–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Robeyns, I. (2005) ‘The Capability Approach: A Theoretical Survey’, Journal of Human Development, 6 (1), 93–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rovi, S. L. D. (1994) ‘Taking ‘NO’ for an Answer: Using Negative Reproductive Intentions to Study the Childless/Childfree’, Population Research and Policy Review, 13 (4), 343–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. SCB [Statistics Sweden] (2003) Tid för vardagsliv-Kvinnors och mdns tidsanvdndning 1990/91 och 2000/01 [Time for Everyday Life-Women’s and Men’s Time Use 1990/91 and 2000/01], Living Conditions, Report no. 99 (Örebro: Tryck).Google Scholar
  71. SCB [Statistics Sweden] (2009) Sveriges framtida befolkning 2009–2060 [The Future Population of Sweden 2009–2060] Demografiska rapporter 2009:1 (Örebro: SCB Tryck).Google Scholar
  72. SCB [Statistics Sweden] (2010a) Educational Attainment (Befolkning efter utbildningsnivå, kön, tid och ålder), (accessed 19 May 2010).Google Scholar
  73. SCB [Statistics Sweden] (2010b) Sysselsättningsintensitet för personer 15–74 år (AKU) med hemmaboende barn [Parents’ Activity Rate], (accessed 18 May 2010).Google Scholar
  74. SCB [Statistics Sweden] (2010c) Summerad fruktsamhet [Total Fertility Rate], (accessed 17 May 2010).Google Scholar
  75. SCB [Statistics Sweden] (2010d) Medelálder för första födelsen [Mean Age at First Birth], (accessed 17 May 2010).Google Scholar
  76. SCB [Statistics Sweden] (2011). Tidsanvändningsundersökningen (2010/11) [The Swedish Time Survey], (accessed 1 September 2011).Google Scholar
  77. Schoen, R., N. M. Astone, Y. J. Kim, C. A. Nathanson and J. M. Fields (1999) ‘Do Fertility Intentions Affect Fertility Behavior?’ Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61 (3), 790–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Sen, A. (1992) Inequality Reexamined (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  79. Sen, A. (1993) ‘Capability and Well-Being’, in Martha C. Nussbaum and A. Sen (eds) The Quality of Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 30–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Sen, A. (2006) [1987] Commodities and Capabilities, Tenth impression (New Delhi: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  81. Skolverket [The Swedish National Agency for Education] (2000) Childcare in Sweden, Stockholm: Liber Distribution, (accessed 19 October 2009).Google Scholar
  82. Skolverket [The Swedish National Agency for Education] (2009a) Barn 1–5 år, andel av befolkningen i barnomsorg, 1998–2008 [Proportion of Children, Aged 1–5, Enrolled in Child Care, 1998–2008], (accessed 19 May 2009).Google Scholar
  83. Skolverket [The Swedish National Agency for Education] (2009b) Five Years with Maximum Fee. English Summary of Report 294, (accessed 19 September 2010).Google Scholar
  84. Skolverket [The Swedish National Agency for Education] (2011) Förskola [Pre-school], (accessed 29 August 2011).Google Scholar
  85. Tazi-Preve, I. M., D. Bichlbauer and A. Goujon (2004) ‘Gender Trouble and Its Impact on Fertility Intentions’, Yearbook of Population Research in Finland, 40, 5–24.Google Scholar
  86. Testa, M. R. (2006) Childbearing Preferences and Family Issues in Europe, (accessed 17 May 2008).Google Scholar
  87. Thomson, E. (1997) ‘Couple Childbearing Desires, Intentions, and Births’, Demography, 34 (3), 343–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Thomson, E. and J. M. Hoem (1998) ‘Couple Childbearing Plans and Births in Sweden’, Demography, 35 (3), 315–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Susanne Fahlén and Livia Sz. Oláh 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne Fahlén
  • Livia Sz. Oláh

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations