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Research project Stockholm University SIMSAM Node for Demographic Research (SUNDEM)

The Stockholm University SIMSAM Node for Demographic Research (SUNDEM) builds on the potential for top-class demographic research as provided by the individual, longitudinal, and spatial data available in Sweden’s population registers and the system of administrative registers that builds on the population registers.

Demographic data graph
Photo: Mostphotos

The research program received funding during 2008-2018 from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) through the Swedish Initiative for research on Microdata in the Social and Medical Sciences (SIMSAM).

The modern system of digitized registers in turn builds on a centuries-long tradition of population statistics that has made Sweden a reference country in many streams of demographic research. SUNDEM brought together researchers with focus on the three demographic processes of fertility (and family dynamics), mortality (and health), and migration (and integration) from the Stockholm University Demography Unit (SUDA) and the Department of Human Geography at the same university. It involved collaboration with register researchers in the other Nordic and a few European countries for which similar types of data are available. The overarching goal was to produce research that exploits the unique qualities that only register data have.

SUDAs research on fertility and family dynamics continues to focus on Sweden’s status as a forerunner in many aspects of family demographic change; our research on mortality and migration often focusses on the interaction of these processes with those of fertility and family dynamics. 

Project description

Linking historical censuses from 1880 to 1950 to modern registers starting in the 1960s enables a complete population-level database of individuals’ kinship links and their living conditions between 1880 and 2020. We will create such a database to analyze how inequality is maintained within families over 140 years. We take a comprehensive and multidimensional view of advantage that also considers status distinctions such as ethnic or religious minority status. We define our main dimensions of advantage to be health and longevity, education, occupational standing, income and wealth, but we also examine demographic outcomes.

The project has three primary research objectives: (1) analyze to what extent living conditions and life-chances today depend on prior generations of kin; (2) analyze how characteristics of ancestors (occupation, immigrant, ethnic minority) influence on transmission of living conditions and life-chances; and (3) compare the development of multigenerational inequality over time. By tracing the distribution of opportunities across vastly different policy landscapes, we will generate important knowledge about transmission mechanisms, and which historical policy shifts (if any) have been most instrumental in mitigating inequality transmission.

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