We follow men and women born in nineteenth-century Northern Sweden and their descendants in contemporary Sweden. We examine absolute demographic success (number of great grandchildren), absolute socioeconomic success (number of great grandchildren with tertiary education), and average socioeconomic success (proportion of great grandchildren with tertiary education) from the perspective of our nineteenth-century cohorts. Our data comprise a population of predominantly farmers born in the Skellefteå region in Northern Sweden in the 1860s and 1870s, and we follow these lineages until 2007. We follow our lineages during the fertility transition, industrial revolution, and expansion of tertiary education. We use a prospective approach where the entire lineage is the unit of analysis and examine how the size and outcomes of future generations are structured by the eldest generation’s socioeconomic status, fertility, and timing of births within the lineage. Our results suggest that timing of birth, socioeconomic status, and fertility are all central factors that explain the success of a lineage in terms of size and educational attainment. These factors operate largely independently of each other in their association with reproductive and socioeconomic success.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council. Martin Kolk is Associate Professor, Demography Unit, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University. Martin Hällsten is Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University.