Families and Family Policies in Sweden: My Book Chapter

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A year ago I received notice that the book Handbook of Family Policies Across the Globe would be coming out in the summer of 2013. I was so elated, as Disa Bergnehr and I had spent time researching and writing a chapter of this book entitled Families and Family Policies in Sweden.


And then the book arrived and has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since, pulling it out to find sources or pretend to show-off by having my name in a book. But that’s because I know the material.

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The information in my book chapter is highly important. The chapter consists of Sweden’s family policies, ranging from domestic abuse to same-sex marriage to children’s rights to parental leave.

Anyone wanting to know more about Sweden and how it operates can easily read this chapter and get a nice overview of the benefits and struggles within Swedish family policy.

To see the abstract click here or read below.

To read an unpublished version of this book chapter click here.

To read my official book chapter and learn about all of the family policies across the globe, you can purchase the book here. The book includes reviews from 28 countries around the globe and from every continent (minus Antarctica).


Sweden is known as a social welfare state, whereby the people who reside in Sweden are entitled to certain public benefits at little or no cost to the individual. Over the past century, Sweden has reshaped its culture, growing from one of the poorest nations in Europe to a flourishing country that others emulate, especially with respect to their family policies. Sweden has developed several foundational family policies that have helped to encourage equality, while establishing a sense of individuality. Sweden has created similar rights for cohabiters/married couples, as well as for same-sex/opposite-sex couples. Parents receive a generous parental leave package, flexible employment choices, and there is a low gender wage gap, while children receive high-quality childcare, free health care, free dental care, free mental health services, and a substantial child welfare program. Swedish family policies encourage both parents to work and to help each other with household and childcare tasks. Despite the public benefits that Sweden provides for mothers, fathers, and children, there is still a need for further improvements regarding policies on domestic violence, poverty, and child welfare. Assessments of Sweden’s family policies are discussed.

Inequalities in Parenting Support for Fathers of Young Children in Sweden: ISSOP Conference Presentation 2014

The International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health (ISSOP) Conference 2014 was held in Gothenburg, Sweden at the Nordic School for Public Health.

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While at the conference, I had one oral and one poster presentation.

The oral presentation was entitled “Inequalities in Parenting Support for Fathers of Young Children in Sweden: Looking at Child Health Centers and Parent Support Programs.

Take-home message:

Sweden prides itself on gender equality and fathers have been show to be beneficial to child development. However, the Swedish child health centers and parents support programs create barriers to father entry.

If fathers are to be involved, then we must encourage them to come; and definitely not use the same tactics with fathers as we do with mothers, as they have different needs.

To see the presentation, please click on the attached powerpoint.


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There were about 60-70 people who listened to my talk, which felt great to have such an audience. But even better, after this talk, five different people approached me to congratulate my work, share their experiences, and to network. And two more expressed their interest via email after the conference.

One man came up to shake my hand, and then stepped away. I started speaking with others who had questions for me, but noticed that he started talking to my supervisor, Anna Sarkadi.

When I finally caught up with my group (having missed lunch thanks to all of the wonderful and interested audience members), I heard what the man talked to Anna about.

“We would like Michael to come give his presentation to all of the nurses in Umeå this fall,” he said.

“But he doesn’t speak Swedish. Do you think that’ll be a problem for the nurses,” Anna replied.

“I don’t care if it’s a slight problem,” he said. “This is information they need to hear.”

Nothing makes a researcher feel better than when others say that their work is  important 🙂

And so I will present at the Barnhälsovårdens nationella konferens (National Child Health Conference) in October 2014.

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I also had a poster presentation. This received much less attention, as posters normally do. I had printed handouts for both my oral and my poster sessions. After 2.5 days at the conference, only 3 poster handouts had been taken.

So when I went to give my oral presentation, I figured I’d lay them out, along with the oral presentation handouts. After my oral presentation, all handouts were gone!

My poster was called “A Qualitative Study on Parental Participation and their Perceptions of the Triple P Curriculum.”

Click on the poster below:

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ISSOP is a wonderful conference if you’re in the field of social pediatrics and child health.

Click here to read about my Social Pediatrics colleagues’ presentations, click here to read about how we brought our research to the streets of Gothenburg, click here to read about the ISSOP conference overall, and click here to see the pictures of sites I saw in Gothenburg.

ISSOP Conference 2014: The Uppsala University Social Pediatric Team Meets Gothenburg

The 2014 ISSOP Conference was held in Gothenburg. ISSOP stands for the International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health. Most of our research group, Social Pediatrics at Uppsala University, attended and presented at this conference, either with oral presentations or with posters. There were only about a dozen or less posters at the conference and the designated times to view them where during breaks, so not many people spent time around the posters. However, the oral presentations were very well attended.


The conference was a great venue for our research team, as many audience members showed a great deal of enthusiasm for our research.

Below are some pictures from talks from members of our research group.

Pär Bokström presenting on In My Shoes: a program designed to better elicit information from children
Anna Sarkadi discussing a novel way of analyzing population differences after an intervention
Filipa Sampaio presenting on the cost-effectiveness of parenting programs
Kine Johansen presenting on SOMP-I: early motor development techniques
Thomas Wallby presenting on the Swedish register data through BHV
Lisa Wellander giving a presentation on the costs of child mental ill-health and alternative ways of reducing mental ill-health while lowering costs for municipalities.

Click here to read about my presentations, click here to read about the ISSOP conference as a whole, click here to read about how we brought our research to the streets of Gothenburg, and click here to read about my time in Gothenburg.

Child behaviour problems, parenting behaviours and parental adjustment in mothers and fathers in Sweden

Publishing aScreen Shot 2014-07-09 at 1.59.00 PM peer-reviewed article is always important in the academic world. Not only do you get to promote yourself and your abilities, but more importantly, you get to promote your findings. Better still would be for someone to pick up your work and institute change based on your findings.

It is our hope that Swedish politicians and bureaucrats take heed of the messages within this article, and further help in providing needed support to parents who struggle with child behavior problems.

Raziye Salari was the lead author on a paper entitled Child behaviour problems, parenting behaviours and parental adjustment in mothers and fathers in Sweden. Anna Sarkadi and myself were co-authors.

The article is published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.

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The abstract and link to the full article can also be found on my researchgate page.

Main message:

Although Sweden is seen as a country that promotes parenting and has lots of family policies to encourage strong parent-child relationships, parents in Sweden still may struggle with child behavioral issues. Therefore, support for these parents is still needed and warranted.

To see the abstract, click here (or read below):

Aims: We aim to examine the relationship between child behavioural problems and several parental factors, particularly parental behaviours as reported by both mothers and fathers in a sample of preschool children in Sweden.

Methods: Participants were mothers and fathers of 504 3- to 5-year-olds that were recruited through preschools. They completed a set of questionnaires including the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory, Parenting Sense of Competence Scale, Parenting
Scale, Parent Problem Checklist, Dyadic Adjustment Scale and Depression Anxiety Stress Scale.

Results: Correlational analyses showed that parent-reported child behaviour problems were positively associated with ineffective parenting practices and interparental conflicts and negatively related to parental competence. Regression analyses showed that, for both mothers and fathers, higher levels of parental over-reactivity and interparental conflict over child-rearing issues and lower levels of parental satisfaction were the most salient factors in predicting their reports of disruptive child behaviour.

Conclusions: This study revealed that Swedish parents’ perceptions of their parenting is related to their ratings of child behaviour problems which therefore implies that parent training programs can be useful in addressing behavioural problems in Swedish children.


Now I can officially call myself a public health researcher!


International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health: 2014 Conference in Gothenburg

The International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health (ISSOP) held their 2014 Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden from June 16-18. Click here to see the outline of the conference and click here to get to a webpage to download any or all of the conference presentations.

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The conference was held at the Nordic School of Public Health. Sadly, at the end of 2014, the Nordic School of Public Health is closing its doors after being the oldest public health department for the Scandinavian countries.


The venue however was great, as the backdrop to the conference was the North Sea (Skagerrak & Kattegat more specifically) allowing for many great sunsets to be seen.



The conference consisted of 150-200 people, with main speakers presenting mainly on an overview of a certain topic, helpfully introducing the next parallel session. The great thing about the parallel sessions was that there were only two to choose from, meaning that each presenter had an audience of at least 60 people.

Lisa presenting in one of the parallel sessions

Since the conference is so specific to a certain field, many of the people there (mainly researchers and bureaucrats) had excellent questions and insights.

The conference was also set up in such a way that there was plenty of downtime between the sessions (often an hour or more). This meant that it was easy to network and no need to rush off to try to get 5 minutes in with someone before the next session.

Lunches were rather plain, with simple sandwiches, but snacks/fika was also provided in the morning and afternoon. Typically this was fruit in the morning and something sweet in the afternoon.

However, the dinners were quite grandiose. The first night the participants were treated to a lovely boat excursion around part of Gothenburg’s archipelago (with a complimentary dinner and two alcoholic drinks served).

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The second night was at a Rådhuset (finger foods and one alcoholic drink served). Lots of time for mingling and networking.


Overall the ISSOP conference is of high quality with a lot of interested people attending, coming from all over the world. But recognize that not all of the participants are researchers and therefore the presentations should be tailored as such.

Click here to read about my (Michael B. Wells’) presentation and poster, click here to read about my Social Pediatrics colleagues’ presentations, click here to read about how we brought our research to the streets of Gothenburg, and click here to see the pictures I took of Gothenburg.

Team Building in Gothenburg

Our research team, Social Pediatrics, headed out to Gothenburg (Göteborg) to attend the International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health (ISSOP) 2014 Conference.

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While making our way from Uppsala to Gothenburg, our boss, Anna Sarkadi, handed us an envelop. Inside contained instructions on what we were to do once we arrived in Gothenburg:

1) Form one of two groups and create a name

2) Rent a bike

3) Bike to the Opera House (6 km, each way) and show/describe our research posters to random passer-by people

4) Interview parents and children on their thoughts about the use of timeout

5) Find a gift for group members who aren’t with us at the conference. It has to be free, meaningful, and connected to Gothenburg

6) Prepare an 8 minute powerpoint presentation in less than 10 minutes to present to the group

The winning will receive a free dinner and be allowed to bring with them one external researcher (plus free wine if that researcher is not from Sweden).

AKA–talk to people about parenting research, present findings, and network.

Below are some pictures showing the amazingness of team building.

Notes from interviewing parents and children on timeout usage
Maria started to chat with people on the train about their thoughts on timeout usage. Children didn’t want it to be used, since they thought it was mean, while parents thought it was important sometimes.


Biking to the Opera House
6 km to the Opera House, but a beautiful view!
Promoting Maria’s bedtime peeing research to random tourists at the Opera House in Gothenburg
Natalie, Maria, and myself celebrating that we had promoted our research on the streets of Gothenburg


Anton couldn’t be with us since he had just had a baby, so we thought a new home was in order

What better way to bring your research literally to the streets!

Click here to read about the ISSOP conference, click here to read about Uppsala’s Social Pediatrics Research Group talks, click here to read about my (Michael B. Wells’) presentation, and click here to read about some highlights in Gothenburg.


Finding an Apartment in Uppsala: For Students and the Public

It’s no shock to anyone familiar with Uppsala that finding a place to live can be a horrific affair. It can be so bad, that at the beginning of the school year, students are sleeping in tents, because there is no housing for them (Read that article here). Or read here about how an American student struggled to find housing for a month.

Feel free to skip to the bottom for various helpful websites that you can start queuing up in! 🙂

Slowly but surely, people land apartments, either with friends or family or through various contracts (some more legal than others). It’s just not uncommon to move two-six times over two years, before landing a first-hand contract.


First hand contract–renting an apartment that you can live in for however long you want. It’s considered your apartment, so typically you can decorate it as you see fit or rent it out to others (check with the landlord though on their rules and regulations).

Second hand contract–when you rent from someone with a first-hand contract. Typically people can only do this for a limited time, because of the housing agency/apartment union. The good news is that legally the owner or first-hand renter cannot overcharge you (making a very small profit) because of the agencies/unions. The bad news is that often the owner/renter keeps all of their items in the apartment (this may be a positive if you don’t own furniture).

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Queue–the imaginary line you wait in in order to get an apartment. The person who’swaited the longest gets first dibs on the apartment. As Ricky Bobby says, if you’re not first, you’re last. So don’t count on getting an apartment if you’re not number 1 in line.

Deposits–many places do not require you to pay a deposit. The ones who do typically only charge one months rent as a deposit. I have yet to find a place that charges the first and last months rent plus a deposit.

The quickest (legal) way to get an apartment is to go through Blocket, where you rent out someone else’s apartment or a room in their apartment. These are often short-term contacts, although you may find some longer term apartments. Blocket is a website similar to Ebay or Craigslist where people list items they have for sale, but apartments for rent are also found on this website. For apartments in Uppsala click here.

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Having just moved to Sweden, I had no idea about this housing crisis, nor did I have any idea that I should be waiting in queues (multiple is much better than 1).

See the queue system is designed to promote equality–it’s not who you know or how much money you have, but how long you’ve waited in line. 1 day = 1 point (in most cases).

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However, this fails to take into consideration people who don’t know the system, especially foreigners. And since you may have to wait anywhere from 2 to 5 years to get an apartment through queuing, it’s important to join the queues as far in advance as possible.

Below are several websites that can be helpful when trying to find a place to live in Uppsala:

Studentstaden is a good queue to join if you’re a student (or going to be a student) at Uppsala University.

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You can find an apartment here within weeks or months, but only if you accept living in a dorm-sized apartment and if you’re lucky–aka: lots of housing options and few students applying. Typically the bigger the apartment, the smaller the queue, perhaps because they’re more expensive. However, the competition is stiffer and therefore the people wanting bigger apartments have probably been queuing for a longer period of time (expect to wait 5 years to get a 50+ sq meter apartment). Notice that currently there are over 100 people trying to get any given apartment (and one only gets it!).

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Different companies have different rules–for example, with Studentstaden, you will receive an email to look at the apartment only if you’re ranked 1 through 20. Expect that if you’re number 2, you won’t get the apartment.

Education used to be free in Sweden. Recently they started charging university fees to foreigners studying at here. If you’re a master’s student studying here as an exchange, then the good news is that your thousands of dollars of tuition costs just sprung you to a guaranteed place to live thanks to university housing (and then of course you still have to pay rent somewhere between 2,700 and 4,500 SEK per month–which is fair). Click here for more information.

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Two-day Course on Multilevel Modeling

While earning my master’s degree in Human Development and Family Science at Ohio State University, I learned about hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). It sounded so cool. But I never had a chance to learn how to do it….until now.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 11.24.47 AMÖrebro University hosted Professor Joop Hox (Utrecht University) on June 9-11, 2014. Dr Hox taught the 2.5 day course on multilevel modeling from a statistician’s perspective.

It was a bit difficult for myself, as well as others (I had to ask around if I was the only one) to understand everything that was being taught, mainly because we were taught more about the formulas and why we should use them rather than focusing more attention to real-life examples and how we could organize our data and run actual model, for instance.

Hox Presentation

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 1.02.12 PMThankfully, he wrote a book entitled Multilevel Analysis: Techniques and Applications (Second edition) that’s quite helpful at explaining how to do the analyses and he has a website (http://www.joophox.net/) with papers and programs so people can learn and practice more.