Why do Swedes marry? examining the difference between marriage and cohabitation in Sweden
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The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate why Swedes marry. Sweden serves as an interesting case study in marriage because of its low levels of inequality, strong commitment to egalitarianism, and broad social and institutional support for cohabitation. Understanding how socioeconomic and ideological factors are associated with marriage in Sweden provides insight into the meaning of marriage in a culture where many practical and traditional motivations for marriage have been eliminated. Chapter 2 describes the pattern of entry into cohabitation, exit out of cohabitation, and transition to marriage and parenthood in Sweden. The findings suggest that the Swedish patterns are outliers in the late timing of marriage relative to childbearing and the long duration of cohabitating unions. Chapter 3 investigates how socioeconomic and ideological factors shape the timing of marriage relative to childbearing in Sweden. The results show that high levels of socioeconomic status are associated with early marriage relative to childbearing and low levels of socioeconomic status are associated with late marriage relative to childbearing and childbearing without marriage. Beliefs in traditional gender roles are also associated with late marriage relative to childbearing, whereas egalitarian and workoriented beliefs are associated with the more traditional timing of marriage prior to childbearing. In other words, attitudes and values associated with the Second Demographic Transition are not linked to the decoupling of marriage and childbearing. Instead, socioeconomic resources appear to be a key factor in explaining differences in marriage timing relative to childbearing. Chapter 4 investigates how kin relationships and socioeconomic resources are associated with the transition from cohabitation to marriage in Sweden. Results show that strong kin relationships are associated with an increased likelihood of marriage for women, but not men. Higher levels of socioeconomic resources are associated with an increased likelihood of the transition from cohabitation to marriage for both women and men. The results suggest that even in a culture that casts marriage as one of several acceptable family forms, marriage continues to maintain popularity and distinguishes itself by being the most prestigious institution for the unfolding of family life.