From a reader:
Greets from Sweden! Long-time reader, etc. etc.
Still, a couple of points regarding:
a) Christianity. The Romans never set foot in Sweden – or any part of
Scandinavia for that matter. Rather, we were converted the
old-fashioned way – by missionaries. Of course, we retained lots of
pagan traditions, etc.
b) Family formation. Merely looking at marriage rates in the case of
Sweden is somewhat misleading. There are currently plenty of
low-calory (I can’t believe it’s not butter!) alternatives to marriage
here in Sweden, that offer less legal protection than marriage
(cohabitation), but in exchange is more flexible. Also, there are some
pretty established schemes for minimising the impact of divorce in
place, with shared custody, etc.
c) Fertility. Sweden is indeed a notch or two above much of Europe
when it comes to child-rearing. Do subsidies for child-rearing
(day-care, direct subsidies, etc.) have something to do with that?
Probably – subsidising stuff tends to produce more of it. That doesn’t
mean that social conservatism (mom stays at home) is not a more
effective way of boosting birth rates, but there need not be a direct
contradiction. Also, Sweden’s fertility was higher than the US rate as
late as 1992.