Trends in Women’s Relative Earnings Within Couples Across the Transition to Parenthood in Sweden, 1987–2007

  • Nylin A
  • Musick K
  • Billingsley S
  • et al.
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This article applies a couple perspective to assessing gender inequality in Sweden—a setting with high maternal labour force participation, a long history of family policy investment, and strong norms of gender equality. We address open questions about how couples’ earnings following parenthood have changed over time, and how patterns of inequality in couples’ earnings have played out across educational groups. Our study uses fixed effects methods and register data covering the total population of heterosexual couples giving birth in Sweden between 1987 and 2007 (N = 587,414 couples). It examines change in the female partner’s share of total couple earnings from 2 years before to 8 years after first birth across parent cohorts differentiated by his and her education. Women’s earnings share declines steeply following birth, across all groups. Results show modestly smaller declines among parents in the latest cohort in the year directly following childbirth. Change is most pronounced among couples with a highly educated female partner, and it appears driven by a marked dip in fathers’ earnings that is new to this recent generation of men. Recent movement towards within-couple equality in Sweden appears driven by men’s work adjustments, pointing to an important shift in the allocation of care work within couples.




Nylin, A.-K., Musick, K., Billingsley, S., Duvander, A.-Z., & Evertsson, M. (2021). Trends in Women’s Relative Earnings Within Couples Across the Transition to Parenthood in Sweden, 1987–2007. European Sociological Review, 37(3), 349–364.

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