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Maria Stanfors. Foto.

Maria Stanfors


Maria Stanfors. Foto.

A Century of Divorce: Long-Term Socioeconomic Restructuring and the Divorce Rate in Sweden, 1915-2010


  • Maria Stanfors
  • Fredrik N G Andersson
  • Glenn Sandström

Summary, in English

Increased divorce rates over the past century are linked to changing macroeconomic
conditions, increased female independence and welfare state expenditure, but few studies
have assessed these long-term relationships at the macro level. Research has focused on
Anglo-Saxon contexts and not considered developments in vanguard countries like Sweden
that determined their role as sociodemographic precursors and early representatives of a
society with a high divorce rate. We examine the impact of macroeconomic conditions
together with increased female independence and welfare expenditure on the divorce rate by
performing time series analysis, using annual aggregate data from Sweden covering almost a
century (1915-2010). We separate between short-run (business cycle), medium-run, and long
run (structural) impacts. Results show that separating between time horizons is important for
understanding the determinants of divorce. Increasing divorce rates were part of a structural
process, affecting the family through increasing state support for families and work
opportunities for women. In the short to medium run demographic factors were key
determinants. It is important to consider contexts like Sweden to understand how welfare state
expansion can counterbalance economic cycles and modify the relationship between
economic conditions and divorce by making divorce accessible through subsidies and
services, even in times of recession.


  • Centrum för ekonomisk demografi
  • Nationalekonomiska institutionen






Lund Papers in Economic Demography (LPED)




Working paper


  • Economic History


  • divorce
  • macro-level determinants
  • Sweden
  • time series analysis




  • A century of divorce. Economic change and union dissolution in Sweden, 1915–2015