Gerda Neyer.

Gerda Neyer


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Sociology
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 B, plan 9
Room B 842
Postal address Sociologiska institutionen, Demografiska avdelningen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Gerda Neyer was Senior Research Associate at the Linneus Center of Social Policy and Family Dynamics in Europe (SPaDE) and is retired Associate Professor of Demography. Her research has been at the intersection of demography and political science with a focus on the role of institutional and political factors, welfare states, gender and social (in) equality in family development in contemporary European countries. She has a PhD in political science and an M.A. in mathematics.

A longer list of selected publications can be found here:



A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 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.

  • 2019. Ann-Zofie Duvander (et al.). Demographic Research 40, 1501-1528


    Demographic theories maintain that family policies that support gender equality may lead to higher fertility levels in postindustrial societies. This phenomenon is often exemplified by the situation in the Nordic countries. These countries have parental leave policies that promote a gender-equal work-care balance for both parents, and these countries have comparatively high fertility levels. However, very little is known about the association between these policies and childbearing at the individual level.


    We explore how fathers' parental leave use is related to subsequent childbearing in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, and we examine whether differences exist in childbearing outcomes among fathers who use no leave, those who use only the leave allocated to them by the policy, and those who use more than that amount of leave.


    The study is based on 15 years of administrative register data on parental leave use in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Event history analysis is used to follow parental couples from the end of the parental leave use for their first or second child until a new birth takes place.


    There is a positive association between fathers' leave use and second births in all three countries, while there is a negative association between fathers' parental leave use and third births in Norway and Sweden. Taking more than the 'father's quota' does not consistently increase the second-birth intensities.


    The two-child norm is closely connected to the norm of fathers being engaged in child rearing, while only a select group of fathers continue with a third child.


    The study shows that the association between gender equality and fertility differs between countries and by the parity of the child. It also shows the need to differentiate between policy-induced gender-equal behavior and gender-egalitarian parenting.

  • 2019. Chiara Ludovica Comolli (et al.).

    This study investigates fertility responses to the business cycle in the Nordic countries by comparing period variation in women’s childbearing propensity. We harmonize register data from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden to compare childbearing in the aftermath of the two most recent crises that hit those economies: the 1990s and 2010s. We use event-history techniques to present parity-specific fertility, by calendar year, relative to a defined pre-recession year. We further examine any possible impact of the two recessions by women’s age and education. Results show a large heterogeneity across the five Nordic countries in the childbearing developments after 1990. This variation largely disappears after 2008 when period trends in birth hazards become more similar across countries. Likewise, the educational differences that characterized the variation in childbearing relative risk after 1990 considerably diminish in the years after 2010, especially for first and second births. Economic theories do not suffice to explain this reversal from the heterogeneity of the 1990s to the homogeneity of the 2010s in the childbearing response to recession episodes across countries and socioeconomic groups. Our findings suggest the need to expand the theoretical framework explaining the cyclicality of fertility towards the perception of economic and welfare uncertainty.

  • 2019. Marika Jalovaara (et al.). European Journal of Population 35 (3), 563-586

    Systematic comparisons of fertility developments based on education, gender and country context are rare. Using harmonized register data, we compare cohort total fertility and ultimate childlessness by gender and educational attainment for cohorts born beginning in 1940 in four Nordic countries. Cohort fertility (CTF) initially declined in all four countries, although for cohorts born in the 1950s and later, the CTF remained stable or declined only modestly. Childlessness, which had been increasing, has plateaued in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Women’s negative educational gradient in relation to total fertility has vanished, except in Finland, while men’s positive gradient has persisted. The highest level of men’s childlessness appears among the least educated. In the oldest female cohorts, childlessness was highest among the highly educated, but these patterns have changed over the cohorts as childlessness has increased among the low educated and remained relatively stable among higher educated women. In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, childlessness is now highest among the least educated women. We witness both a new gender similarity and persistent (among men) and new (among women) educational disparities in childbearing outcomes in the Nordic region. Overall, the number of low educated has decreased remarkably over time. These population segments face increasing social and economic disadvantages that are reflected as well in their patterns of family formation.

  • 2018. Sunnee Billingsley, Gerda Neyer, Katharina Wesolowski.

    This study analyzes whether and how family policies are related to women’s first and second child transitions in 21 post-industrial countries. We adapt the social investment approach developed in welfare state research and distinguish between investment-oriented family policies and traditional, protection-oriented family policies. Our family policy indicators vary over time and are merged with fertility histories provided by harmonized individual level data. We use multilevel event-history models and control for time-varying unobserved heterogeneity at the country level and individual-level characteristics. Higher family-policy support of both types is correlated with the postponement of first births, particularly among young women, whereas traditional-family support is also correlated with postponement among older women and women in education. Both types of family support are linked to earlier first births among lower educated women. Only investment-oriented support is correlated with second birth transitions and this positive relationship does not vary for women with different educational levels.

  • 2018. Isabel Valarino (et al.). Social Politics 25 (1), 118-147

    This study analyses preferences regarding leave length, gender division of leave,and leave financing in four countries with different welfare-state and leaveregimes. Embedded in a gender perspective, institutional, self-interest, and ideationaltheoretical approaches are used to explore the factors shaping individuals’preferences (ISSP 2012 data). Findings show dramatic cross-country differences,suggesting the institutional dimension is most strongly related to leave policy preferences.Self-interest and values concerning gender relations and state responsibilityare also important correlates. The study identifies mismatches between leavepreferences, entitlements, and uptake, with implications for policy reform and thegendered division of parenting.

  • 2017. Gerda Neyer, Jan M. Hoem, Gunnar Andersson. Childlessness in Europe, 183-207

    This article deals with the question of how different institutional structures affect ultimate levels of childlessness. We compare rates of childlessness by educational field and educational level among women born in 1955–1959 in two different welfare states: Austria and Sweden. We find similar patterns of childlessness by educational field in both countries: i.e., women who have been educated to work in the education or health sector have lower rates of childlessness than women who have been educated to work in most other occupational fields. However, rates of childlessness by educational level differ markedly between the two countries: Austrian women with upper-secondary or tertiary education are significantly more likely to be childless than Swedish women with comparable levels of education and Austrian women with lower levels of education. We attribute these differences to the educational systems, the labour market structures, and the family policies of the two countries; which in Sweden promote equality across educational groups, and in Austria create cleavages between educational groups. We conclude with reflections on the implications of our results for demographic research on education and fertility.

  • 2016. Arianna Caporali (et al.). Demographic Research 35, 229-252

    Background: Differences in demographic behaviours across countries and subnational regions have stimulated interest in studying the relationships between individual characteristics and the contexts in which individuals are embedded. Analytical approaches that include contextual indicators in statistical analyses of demographic behaviour need well-documented comparative data at the national and the subnational regional level. The Contextual Database (CDB) of the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP; supports such analyses by providing comparative data on demographic and socio-economic contexts in up to 60 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, and Oceania.

    Objective: This paper presents conceptual considerations and an overview of the content and the functionality of the CDB. Research examples illustrate how data from this database can increase the analytical potential of demographic analyses.

    Conclusions: The CDB is a state-of-the-art research tool that provides well-documented comparative data at the national and the subnational regional level. Although it is conceptually linked to the Generations and Gender Survey (GGS), it can also be used to analyse data from other surveys, to study macro developments, and for teaching and lecturing. The CDB has a number of valuable features. First, it has a large number of indicators specifically geared towards demographic analyses, which provide extensive temporal and geographic coverage. Second, its dynamic web environment provides a high degree of transparency on data sources, as it offers meta-data for each individual entry. Finally, the CDB supports geocoding schemes that are used by the GGS and other surveys to denote region and country of residence.

  • 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.

  • 2012. Carina Marten, Gerda Neyer, Ilona Ostner. Soziale Welt 19, 115-137

    This article traces the development of family policies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and discusses recent changes of family policies against within the framework "new social risk" perception and institutional changes.

  • 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.

Show all publications by Gerda Neyer at Stockholm University

Last updated: April 17, 2020

Bookmark and share Tell a friend