Having children or not? Women’s and men’s attitudes towards having children, the case of Sweden

Karin Linnea Lundström, Statistics Sweden

The fertility in Sweden fluctuates significantly over time and has increased during the last decade. In 2008 the total fertility rate was 1.9 children per woman, an increase from 1.5 in 1999. The long observed increase in age at first birth seems to have leveled off during the last few years and the percent women remaining childless may decrease somewhat for the cohorts born in the 1970s compared to those born in the 1960s. To get better knowledge about how women and men regard childbearing and forming families Statistics Sweden conducted a survey during the spring 2009. The sample contained 7 000 women aged 20-40 and men aged 20-44 that were either childless at the end of 2008 or that had their first or second child during 2006. Most of those that have not had children yet want to have children in the future. There does not seem to have been any reduction in the percentage of those who think they will one day have children. This applies despite that the questionnaire was answered during an economic recession. Compared to a similar survey from 2000, there is roughly as large a percentage answering yes or maybe to the question of whether they think they will ever have children. For a long time it has been most common to have two children. This pattern also appears to be holding strong into the foreseeable future. The survey results also show that many have problems getting pregnant, when they postpone having children to higher ages. Among the older childless women a large proportion have tried but not succeeded in getting pregnant. Many of these have sought help from for example ovulation testing and artificial insemination in order to have children.

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Presented in Poster Session 1