A New Look at the Role of Cultural Factors in the Fertility Decline: Scandinavia 1845-1910

Anne Sofie Beck Knudsen, University of Copenhagen
Martin Dribe, Lund University

Despite a large body of research, we still lack a full understanding of the determinants of the fertility transition in the West. Traditionally, explanations have been grouped under the headings of innovation or adjustment, stressing the importance of culture/attitudes and socioeconomic/demographic factors, respectively. In this paper we revisit the fertility transition in Scandinavia, analyzing the role of cultural change as reflected in naming practices. Choosing unusual names for children has been shown to be connected to more individualistic attitudes among parents, which could also be expected to be related to a higher likelihood of adopting new behavior in relation to birth control within marriage. We use full-count census data for Denmark, Sweden and Norway from 1845 to 1910, which was the period when fertility decline began in this region. Based on a previous constructed indicator of collectivist/individualistic attitudes we analyze the association between individualistic attitudes and marital fertility, and the extent to which this association is conditioned upon socioeconomic status and varied regionally.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 173. Cultural Factors in Demographic Behaviour