Education and Childlessness among Swedish Men

Margarita Chudnovskaya , Stockholm University

Childlessness among men an important topic of research as men in the Nordic countries have a higher rate of childlessness than women (22% v. 13%). Childlessness among men may be an indicator of social disadvantage: while there are many pathways into childlessness, recent research has shown that for men, childlessness is most often the result of remaining single throughout adulthood. This study examines socioeconomic inequalities in childlessness. While theories of family formation suggest that higher status is generally beneficial for men in forming families, theorizing on the importance of different forms of status is underdeveloped. In this paper, I examine childlessness among men born 1965-1975, and show how their education at age 40 is related to the likelihood of having any biological children. Using step-wise regression analysis, I show how the relationship between education and childlessness is mediated by (1) social origin, (2) income at 35-40, (3) IQ, (4) marriage. The results show the existence of an educational gradient: men with compulsory education are less likely to be fathers, and men with post-secondary education more likely to be fathers, compared to men with upper-secondary education. However, the advantage of higher education disappears (and even reverses) when income is taken into account. Likewise, the disadvantage of compulsory education disappears when IQ is taken into account. Education thus captures the effect of other status variables, and may not be an important factor when we consider men's childlessness. This result has important implications for further study of partner markets and partner search.

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 Presented in Session 128. Childlessness