Stockholm university

Signe SvallforsPhD Student

About me

Signe Svallfors is a doctor in sociological demography at the Department of Sociology, Stockholm University.

In her research Svallfors studies how armed conflict shapes sexual and reproductive health and rights. She combines material from three sources: information about local conflict violence, micro-level survey data, as well as expert interviews with representatives of civil society organizations. The research aims to fill a gap in knowledge about health outcomes of war, or how armed conflict as context affects individual lives and health. The topics under study include, e.g., contraceptive use, fertility preferences, gender-based violence, pregnancy outcomes, and access to reproductive health care.

The spring semester 2020 Svallfors was a visiting scholar at the Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. From May 2022 she will join the Department of Global Health at Karolinska Institutet as a postdoctoral researcher in epidemiology.

Svallfors teaches sociological theory and qualitative methods.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Hidden Casualties

    2021. Signe Svallfors. Politics & Gender


    The Colombian peace process was internationally celebrated for its unprecedented focus on women’s experiences of war, but the everyday violence women that may face in their homes was not acknowledged. This article explores the links between exposure to local armed conflict violence and individual women’s experiences of intimate partner violence. I combine pooled nationally representative data on individual women’s experiences of intimate partner violence with information about the intensity of conflict during 2004–16. Results of fixed-effects linear probability models show that conflict was generally linked to a slightly elevated risk of women experiencing emotional, physical, and sexual violence perpetrated by their partner. Among women who had experienced intimate partner violence, conflict was related to an increased probability of being partnered at interview, which could reflect women staying in abusive relationships because conflict normalizes violence or increases women’s reluctance to leave those relationships.

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  • The remarkable stability of fertility desires during the Colombian armed conflict 2000–2016

    2021. Signe Svallfors. Population, Space and Place


    Limited attention has been paid so far to the impacts of war on proximate determi-nants of fertility, including childbearing preferences. This study explores the relation-ship between exposure to local conflict violence and fertility desires in Colombia. Icombined nationally representative micro-level data on the timing, frequency anddecisiveness of reproductive preferences from the Demographic and Health Surveys,with geospatial information about local violence from the Uppsala Conflict DataProgram from 2000 to 2016. The results show a remarkable stability in women'schildbearing desires in relation to conflict during the observation period, robust tomultiple respecifications of the study sample, statistical model and conflict measure-ments. The study indicates that previously reported increases to fertility behaviourcannot be explained by altered preferences, suggesting a surge in unwanted pregnan-cies. This highlights the need for policy programs to support women in realising theirfertility preferences, whatever they may be.

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  • Contraceptive choice as risk reduction?

    2021. Signe Svallfors. Population Studies


    Altered childbearing behaviour has been observed in many settings of violent conflict, but few studies have addressed fertility control. This is the first study to investigate empirically the relationship between local conflict and uptake of sterilization, the only contraceptive method that reflects a definitive stop to childbearing. The study is based on Colombia, a middle-income, low-fertility, and long-term conflict setting. It builds on a mixed methods approach, combining survey and conflict data with expert interviews. Fixed effects regressions show that local conflict is generally associated with an increased sterilization uptake. The interviews suggest that women may opt for sterilization when reversible methods become less accessible because of ongoing violence. Since sterilization is a relatively available contraceptive option in Colombia, it may represent a risk-aversion strategy for women who have completed their fertility goals. These findings can enlighten research and programmes on fertility and family planning in humanitarian contexts.

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  • Conflict and Contraception in Colombia

    2019. Signe Svallfors, Sunnee Billingsley. Studies in family planning 50 (2), 87-112


    This study explores how armed conflict relates to contraceptive use in Colombia, combining data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program and Demographic and Health Surveys 1990-2016. Our study is the first systematic effort to investigate whether and how violent conflict influences women's contraceptive use, using nationally representative data across all stages of women's reproductive careers. With fixed effects linear probability models, we adjust for location-specific cultural, social, and economic differences. The results show that although modern contraceptive use increased over time, it declined according to conflict intensity across location and time. We find no evidence that this relationship varied across socioeconomic groups. Increased fertility demand appears to explain a small portion of this relationship, potentially reflecting uncertainty about losing a partner, but conflict may also result in lack of access to contraceptive goods and services.

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Show all publications by Signe Svallfors at Stockholm University