Kolk, Martin & Vegard Skirbekk | 2022
Advances in Life Course Research, vol. 53
We studied to what extent family lines die out over the course of 122 years based on Swedish population-level data. Our data included demographic and socioeconomic information for four generations in the Skellefteå region of northern Sweden from 1885 to 2007. The first generation in our sample consisted of men and women born between 1885 and 1899 (N = 5850), and we observed their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. We found that 48% of the first generation did not have any living descendants (great-grandchildren) by 2007. The risk of a family line dying out within the four-generational framework was highest among those who had relatively low fertility in the first generation. Mortality during reproductive years was also a leading reason why individuals in the first generation ended up with a greater risk of not leaving descendants. We identified socioeconomic differences: both the highest-status and the lowest-status occupational groups saw an increased risk of not leaving any descendants. Almost all lineages that made it to the third generation also made it to the fourth generation.