Suicide Trends in Sweden, 1920-2000: the Impact of Solidarity, Gender Roles and Work-Family Policies

Julianne K. Ohlander, University of California, Irvine

Sweden’s suicide rate became common knowledge in the early 1960s after then-American President Dwight D. Eisenhower implicated the country’s socialist economy as its cause. Sweden’s suicide rate was high at the time; about 20 persons committed suicide per 100,000 inhabitants (rate of 31 per 100,000 for males and 9 per 100,000 for females). Since the 1950s, however, Sweden has experienced a decline in its overall suicide rate, but the decline occurred at different times for demographic groups. Males experienced an earlier decline in their suicide rates than did females. The cause of the differential peaks in suicide by age-sex groups is the subject of this paper. The analysis documents the relationship between the suicide rates and the development of the Social Democratic movement in Sweden and its ideology of solidarity as manifested in work-family policies, female labor force participation, and changing gender roles.

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Presented in Poster Session 2