Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce in Sweden, 1902-2015

Martin Bergvall , Centre for Economic Demography-Economic History Lund University
Maria Stanfors, Lund University

A large number of studies have shown that parental divorce is associated with higher risks of divorce for the offspring. Extant research is, however, limited to shorter modern periods, and thus less is known about whether this relationship has long tap roots or changed over time, and whether it is transferred over multiple generations. Many factors, including less economic resources, less emotional stability, and the experience of stigma attached to divorce, have been suggested as important links between parental divorce and reduced marital stability among children in adult life. With respect to these factors, there are reasons to believe that intergenerational transmission of divorce (ITD) would decrease over time. As divorce becomes more common, stigma weakens, and as societies modernizes, the welfare state compensates for lack of economic resources and social support, and thus the negative consequences experienced by children of divorce abate. Studies on change in the ITD nevertheless show mixed results. Here, we use individual-level longitudinal data to estimate hazard models for the ITD in Sweden 1902-2015. We investigate the relationship between own divorce and parental as well as grandparental divorce in Sweden over the course of the twentieth century when the country industrialized and transitioned from a low to a high divorce regime. Controlling for demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, preliminary results indicate a decreasing trend in the ITD, for both men and women, and that divorce in the first generation increases the risk of divorce in both the second and third generation.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course