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Martin Bergvall. Foto.

Martin Bergvall


Martin Bergvall. Foto.

Documenting Determinants of the Divorce Transition. Micro-Level Evidence from Sweden 1905–1967


  • Martin Bergvall
  • Maria Stanfors

Summary, in English

Divorce increased dramatically during the twentieth century across the western world. There is surprisingly little research on the determinants of divorce during this transition. We investigate micro-level sociodemographic determinants of divorce in Sweden 1922–1967 using longitudinal data at individual and household level from southern Sweden, focusing on the associations between divorce and women’s economic independence, household socioeconomic status (SES), and the presence of children in the household. Results suggest that greater equality along class and gender lines changed the returns to marriage and enabled more people to divorce. Thus, divorce risks increased though divorce was still a rare event. Already in a low divorce context, women’s economic independence was positively related to divorce and this relationship became stronger over time. As for household SES, a negative gradient in divorce risks emerged as divorce spread to the broader layers of the population. Like today, the presence of dependent children in the household was associated with lower divorce risks. We can document that the primary explanations of divorce in modern contexts are also valid for historical divorce. Women’s economic independence was key to the divorce transition although their economic roles were much different from men’s during this period.


  • Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen
  • Centrum för ekonomisk demografi






Lund Papers in Economic Demography




Working paper


  • Economic History


  • divorce
  • industrialization
  • Sweden
  • twentieth century
  • micro-level longitudinal data
  • discrete hazard models




  • Doctoral Studies: The Divorce Transition in Sweden 1915–2015
  • A century of divorce. Economic change and union dissolution in Sweden, 1915–2015