Family formation, then and now
Name: Anders Brändström
Anders Brändström\'s research is in the field of population and living conditions. I do not work with aging rather the opposite I study children and youth, infant and child mortality from a historical perspective from then to now.
A question that occupies Anders is how demographic patterns, or population patterns, are transferred between generations and if they are controlled by social legacy or genetic factors.
“When it comes to family formation, there is a clear social connection. If the mother had many children, there is a high probability that the daughter will too. The same clear pattern exists if the man comes from a large family, the woman he marries has many children,” explains Anders.
“Access to databases that are unique in the world means that we can interpret these patterns. There are few other places in the world with access to historical source material as extensive as we have here in Umeå. We can follow up to ten generations back in time.”
Thanks to the databases, it is also possible to see that there is a historical connection between economic factors and the average age of women having their first children.
“In the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, the average age was also high, which was due to women waiting to have children until they were certain that they had found a man who could support the family.”
What use do we who live in a modern, urban society have of knowing what people did previously when the society was structured completely differently?
“It is of importance, for example, if one wants to stimulate fertility. Factors must then be weighed in such as if there is a cultural legacy that also plays a role, which can mean that certain measures won’t have an effect until a generation or so later.”
Anders has also studied child and infant mortality from a historical perspective.
“These are results that are important to transfer to low-income countries where mortality is high. It turned out that the mortality in families with the same living conditions can differ greatly. What is this due to? In parts of upper Norrland, mortality was high in some families despite similar living conditions. Around 50% of the children died, but within 45% of the population, there was no child mortality at all.”