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Higher education and family formation: A story of Swedish educational expansion
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4934-271X
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The subject of this dissertation is trends in family formation among highly educated men and women in Sweden. The highly educated have typically differed from other educational groups in their patterns of childbearing. This has particularly been

the case for highly educated women, who used to be in the minority among the highly educated and who were much more likely to be childless than other women. The goal of this dissertation is to understand how the expansion of higher education has transformed  the formation of childbearing unions among the highly educated group. The context for the dissertation is the dramatic expansion of higher education which has occurred in Sweden over the last half century. As the share of cohorts graduating from post-secondary education has grown, diversity among the highly educated has also increased. This dissertation draws upon rich Swedish administrative register data to answer questions about changes in the behavior of the highly educated group, as well as emerging stratification within the group. This dissertation consists of five studies and an introductory chapter.

In Study 1, we examine changes in geographical distances between young couples and their parents. We find that among younger cohorts, generations live further apart. The expansion of higher education contributes to these distances, though the introduction of regional colleges has mediated the impact of educational expansion to some extent. In Study 2, we consider how effective colleges are as partner markets. We follow one birth cohort (1970), and examine the likelihood that they form a childbearing union with someone who attended the same university at the same time. We find that colleges are an important potential meeting place for childbearing partners, and examine how the likelihood of partnering with a fellow student is related to the college composition.

In Study 3, I assess changes in partner choice among the highly educated, by comparing the likelihood that highly

educated men and women born in 1940-2, 1950-2, 1960-2, and 1970-2 form a childbearing union, and whether they do

so with a highly or a lower educated partner. I find that female graduates are much more likely to enter unions, and to

“partner down”. Men’s likelihood of forming a childbearing union hasn’t changed across cohorts, but men from later cohorts are much more likely to find a highly educated partner than men from earlier cohorts. I show that partnership outcomes for graduates are related to social class background, university experience (degree length and institution type), and post-graduation income. In Study 4, we study unions with at least one highly educated partner, including men and women born in 1950-2, 1960-2, 1970-2, and 1980-2. We examine the extent to which educational (in)equality is mirrored in other measures of status such as social class background, income, and occupational prestige. We conclude that although the number of women “partnering down” in terms of education has increased dramatically, these unions are not necessarily characterized by female status-dominance more generally. In Study 5, I focus on highly educated men who do not form any childbearing union, studying men born in the years 1945-1974. I find that the consistent levels of childlessness among highly educated men may best be explained by changes in the composition of graduates in terms of field of study and post-graduation income.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University , 2017.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 71
Keyword [en]
education, educational expansion, childbearing, union formation, educational homogamy
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-146038ISBN: 978-91-7649-944-3 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7649-945-0 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-146038DiVA: diva2:1135916
Public defence
2017-10-13, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 340-2013-5164
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-09-20 Created: 2017-08-24 Last updated: 2017-09-14Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Educational Expansion and Intergenerational Proximity in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Educational Expansion and Intergenerational Proximity in Sweden
2017 (English)In: Population, Space and Place, ISSN 1544-8444, E-ISSN 1544-8452, Vol. 23, no 1, UNSP e1973Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Education is one of the most important drivers of regional migration in European countries, and educational expansion has been a major social phenomenon in the last decades. We use decomposition analysis to examine how the expansion of tertiary education has affected intergenerational distance between adult children and their parents in Sweden. We use administrative register data for the complete population of Sweden and examine changes in intergenerational proximity between 1980 and 2010, using couples at the birth of their first child as the study population. An explicit policy goal of tertiary expansion was to widen the geographical access to tertiary education and the enrolment grew at newer regional institutions during this period. We additionally explore if this policy of regional expansion influenced average distance to parents. We find that intergenerational distances increased over the study period and that this was mainly attributed to the increased enrolment at traditional, older, universities.

Keyword
intergenerational proximity, educational expansion, Sweden, regionalisation
National Category
Sociology Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-141251 (URN)10.1002/psp.1973 (DOI)000396379300008 ()
Available from: 2017-04-12 Created: 2017-04-12 Last updated: 2017-08-24Bibliographically approved
2. Educational Institutions as Partner Markets
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Educational Institutions as Partner Markets
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we analyze how school size and composition affect partnership formation in universities and in major programs within universities. Schools are commonly regarded important settings for partnership formation and matching in schools is an important explanation to educational homogamy. Yet we know little about which structural and compositional features of schools promote or dampen partnership formation. We analyze the probability of partnership formation in schools, namely the probability for a member of index cohort to have a partner with whom one overlapped in school with. Building on theories of marriage markets, we analyze the effects of school size, their sex ratios, and the age and ethnic compositions of universities on the likelihood of partnership formation. We use data from Swedish population registers for a cohort born in 1970. Our data includes the entire cohort and identifies the universities, and other students in them, which the cohort members attended. 

Keyword
assortative mating, partner markets, homogamy, education
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-146036 (URN)
Available from: 2017-08-21 Created: 2017-08-21 Last updated: 2017-08-24Bibliographically approved
3. Partner Choice among the Highly Educated in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Partner Choice among the Highly Educated in Sweden
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The goal of this study is to examine changes in the partnership formation of highly educated men and women over the period of higher educational expansion in Sweden. This study examines childbearing unions formed by highly educated men and women born in 1940-1942, 1950-1952, 1960-1962, and 1970-1972. Using binomial logistic regression, I analyze the likelihood for male and female graduates to form any childbearing union, and to form a union with a highly educated or a lower educated partner in relation to several educational variables. The educational variables considered are degree length (2-5 years), institution type (traditional and newer), income (predicted by program of study), and social class background. I find that in the birth cohorts studied, female graduates have become much less likely to remain unpartnered and much more likely to “partner down” in terms of education. Male graduates have been increasingly more likely to form childbearing unions with highly educated women. Higher status in terms of more prestigious education, higher class background, or higher income was generally associated with a higher likelihood of finding a highly educated partner—though some important gender differences exist. Additionally, the status indicators examined in this study do not appear to have become stronger predictors of partnership outcomes over time.

Keyword
partner choice, higher education, educational homogamy, assortative mating, childlessness
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145957 (URN)
Available from: 2017-08-21 Created: 2017-08-21 Last updated: 2017-08-24Bibliographically approved
4. Is the end of educational hypergamy the end of hypergamy? Evidence from Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is the end of educational hypergamy the end of hypergamy? Evidence from Sweden
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Over the last decades, women have outperformed men in higher education. Following this trend, women have also increasingly “partnered down” in terms of education. In this paper, we ask whether this trend for women’s educational hypogamy (“partnering down”) corresponds to other forms of status hypogamy, and whether the increasing prevalence of educationally hypogamous unions has accounted for changes in the status of women relative to their male partners across cohorts. We use Swedish register data and analyze childbearing unions of post-secondary educated men and women born in 1950-2, 1960-2, 1970-2, and 1980-2. We measure relative status according to social class background, income, and occupational prestige. Female hypogamous unions are only somewhat more female status-dominant than other unions. We also find that the status of women relative to their male partners over time has been generally stable in terms of the different status indicators measured, despite increasing female hypogamy. 

Keyword
assortative mating, relative resources, women, hypogamy
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-146035 (URN)
Available from: 2017-08-21 Created: 2017-08-21 Last updated: 2017-08-29Bibliographically approved
5. Trends in childlessness among highly educated men in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trends in childlessness among highly educated men in Sweden
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study contributes to recent literature on childlessness among men by examining trends in childlessness among highly educated men in Sweden over a period of higher educational expansion. Though women outnumber men among graduates, the favourable partner market has not been associated with decreased childlessness among highly educated men. In this study, I examine how the field of study, sex ratio in educational institution, and income are related to the likelihood of childlessness among highly educated men over thirty birth cohorts (1945-1974). I find that men with technical oriented education, and men with lower incomes, are more likely to remain childless and that this pattern is consistent across cohorts studied. A negative association between birth cohort and childlessness emerges in a multivariate logistic model when differences in study experiences, income, and background variables are taken into account. This study thus suggests that compositional changes within the highly educated group are an explanation for the persistently high levels of childlessness among highly educated men.

Keyword
fatherhood, childlessness, higher education, fertility
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145956 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 839-2008-7495
Available from: 2017-08-21 Created: 2017-08-21 Last updated: 2017-08-24Bibliographically approved

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