Children's experiences of family disruption in Sweden: Differentials by parent education over three decades

Sheela Kennedy, Elizabeth Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This paper examines the living arrangements of Swedish children from 1970 through 1999 using the Level of Living Survey. Sweden, with low levels of economic inequality and a generous welfare state, provides an important context for studying socioeconomic differentials in family structure. We find that, although differences by parent education in non-marital childbearing are substantial and persistent, cohabiting childbearing is common even among highly educated Swedish parents. Educational differences in family instability were small during the 1970s, but increased over time as a result of rising union disruption among less-educated parents (secondary graduates or less). Children in more advantaged families experienced substantially less change in family structure and instability over the study period. Although cohabiting parents were more likely to separate than parents married at the child's birth, differences were greater for the less-educated. Data limitations precluded investigating these differences across time. We conclude that educational differences in children's living arrangements in Sweden have grown, but remain small in international comparisons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-508
Number of pages30
JournalDemographic Research
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. N.R., S.K.S. and V.G. thank the Centre of Experimental Medicine and Surgery, Institute of Medical Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi for funding and internal grants. V.G. also acknowledges Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) for funding (EMEQ/ 2019/000025).


Dive into the research topics of 'Children's experiences of family disruption in Sweden: Differentials by parent education over three decades'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this