Gerda Neyer.

Gerda Neyer


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Works at Department of Sociology
Telephone 08-16 31 78
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 B, plan 9
Room B 842
Postal address Sociologiska institutionen, Demografiska avdelningen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Gerda Neyer is Associate Professor of Demography and Senior Research Associate of SPaDE. Her research lies at the intersection of demography and political sciences. She focuses on the role of institutional and political factors in family formation in contemporary European countries.

She holds an M.A. in Mathematics, and a Ph.D. in political science.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2013. Gerda Neyer, Trude Lappegard, Daniele Vignoli. European Journal of Population 29 (3), 245-272

    Does gender equality matter for fertility? Demographic findings on this issue are rather inconclusive. We argue that one reason for this is that the complexity of the concept of gender equality has received insufficient attention. Gender equality needs to be conceptualized in a manner that goes beyond perceiving it as mere sameness of distribution. It needs to include notions of gender equity and thus to allow for distinguishing between gender difference and gender inequality. We sketch three dimensions of gender equality related to employment, financial resources, and family work, which incorporate this understanding: (1) the ability to maintain a household; (2) agency and the capability to choose; and (3) gender equity in household and care work. We explore their impact on childbearing intentions of women and men using the European Generations and Gender Surveys. Our results confirm the need for a more nuanced notion of gender equality in studies on the relationship between gender equality on fertility. They show that there is no uniform effect of gender equality on childbearing intentions, but that the impact varies by gender and by parity.

  • 2013. Gerda Neyer (et al.).

    Over the past decades Europe has witnessed fundamental changes of its population dynamics and population structure. Fertility has fallen below replacement level in almost all European countries, while childbearing behavior and family formation have become more diverse. Life expectancy has increased in Western Europe for both females and males, but has been declining for men in some Eastern European countries. Immigration from non-European countries has increased substantially, as has mobility within Europe. These changes pose major challenges to population studies, as conventional theoretical assumptions regarding demographic behavior and demographic development seem unfit to provide convincing explanations of the recent demographic changes.

    This book, derived from the symposium on “The Demography of Europe” held at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany in November 2007 in honor of Professor Jan M. Hoem, brings together leading population researchers in the area of fertility, family, migration, life-expectancy, and mortality. The contributions present key issues of the new demography of Europe and discuss key research advances to understand the continent’s demographic development at the turn of the 21st century.

  • 2011. Gerda Neyer, Laura Bernardi. Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung 36 (2), 162-176

    Motherhood and reproduction have been at the core of the feminist discourse about women's rights ever since its onset. For the first and second feminist movements, the right to abortion and the public recognition of motherhood have been main issues in the discourse on reproduction. Since the last two decades of the 20th century, the potentials of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have opened up new venues of feminist discourse.

    In this paper we sketch the main feminist lines of argumentation regarding motherhood and reproduction since the 1970s, and we identify specific shifts in their recurrent issues. We argue that an essential contribution of feminism to the understanding of motherhood as a structuring category has been its insistence on the distinction between biological and social motherhood. Feminist discourse shows how ART has further decomposed biological motherhood and has altered the meaning of motherhood and reproduction. Feminist analysis maintains that despite the rhetoric of choice surrounding ART, these technologies have not increased women’s reproductive freedom. The decomposition of biological motherhood, the medical, legal, and commercial development of reproduction, and the change in the social perception of motherhood have rather established new forms of control over female reproduction.

  • 2011. Gerda Neyer. Demographic Research 24 (10), 225-250

    This paper argues against the suggestion that governments should push for gender equality more aggressively in order to raise fertility. The paper presents a threefold "no" to this proposal. It takes issue with the goal of raising fertility, arguing that the claims that fertility must be increased are based on myths. It rejects a more aggressive pursuit of gender equality for demographic purposes, maintaining that this method preserves inequality. It warns against using gender equality for fertility purposes, stating that this narrows the realm of gender equality.

    The paper is based on a debate held at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, at which the author was asked to argue against the gender equality-fertility proposal. The other participants in the debate were Laurent Toulemon ("yes"), Dimiter Philipov ("no"), and Livia Oláh ("yes").

  • 2009. Gunnar Andersson (et al.). Demographic Research 20 (14), 313-352

    Previous analyses of period fertility suggest that the trends of the Nordic countries are sufficiently similar to speak of a common "Nordic fertility regime". We investigate whether this assumption can be corroborated by comparing cohort fertility patterns in the Nordic countries. We study cumulated and completed fertility of Nordic birth cohorts based on the childbearing histories of women born in 1935 and later derived from the population registers of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. We further explore childbearing behaviour by women’s educational attainment. The results show remarkable similarities in postponement and recuperation between the countries. Median childbearing age is about 2−3 years higher in the 1960−64 cohort than in the 1950−54 cohort, but the younger cohort recuperates the fertility level of the older cohort at ages 30 and above. A similar pattern of recuperation can be observed for highly educated women as compared to women with less education, resulting in small differences in completed fertility across educational groups. Another interesting finding is that of a positive relationship between educational level and the final number of children when women who become mothers at similar ages are compared. Despite some differences in the levels of childlessness, country differences in fertility outcome are generally small. The cohort analyses thus support the notion of a common Nordic fertility regime.

  • 2006. Jan M. Hoem, Gerda Neyer, Gunnar Andersson. Demographic Research 14 (15), 331-380

    In this paper we extend the concept of educational attainment to cover the field of education taken in addition to the conventional level of education attained. Our empirical investigation uses register records containing childbearing and educational histories of an entire cohort of women born in Sweden (about a quarter-million individuals). This allows us to operate with a high number of educational field-and-level combinations (some sixty in all). It turns out that the field of education serves as an indicator of a woman’s potential reproductive behavior better than the mere level attained. We discover that in each field permanent childlessness increases some with the educational level, but that the field itself is the more important. In general, we find that women educated for jobs in teaching and health care are in a class of their own, with much lower permanent childlessness at each educational level than in any other major grouping. Women educated in arts and humanities or for religious occupations have unusually high fractions permanently childless. Our results cast doubt on the assumption that higher education per se must result in higher childlessness. In our opinion, several factors intrinsic and extrinsic to an educational system (such as its flexibility, its gender structure, and the manner in which education is hooked up to the labor market) may influence the relationship between education and childlessness, and we would not expect a simple, unidirectional relationship.

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Last updated: June 26, 2018

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