Name: Dependence and Child Welfare Committee data (Socialregisteruppgifter)
Period(s): 1953-1959, 1960-1965, 1966-1972 (SMS)
Code book: II

Information

By Carl-Gunnar Janson (1980) Register Data I. A code book. Project Metropolitan Research Report No 12. Stockholm. Each Swedish municipality is enjoined to keep a register on its decisions on various kinds of social-welfare cases. Such registers became mandatory in 1937 but big-city municipalities started them much earlier, Stockholm City in 1895. The kinds of cases to be included have changed as the municipal social-welfare measures developed according to acts passed by Parliament or by municipal councils. New categories of cases were created and old categories changed or redefined. However, the welfare state is not a society where the majority is on welfare. On the contrary, it implies, among other things, a social organization and a network of general measures that make the general population able to avoid getting on welfare. Such general measures are administered and registered by other agencies than the municipal social authorities from the start, e.g. the General Medical Insurance, or are eventually transferred to such agencies, e.g. the General Child Allowances.

The municipal register contains the dossiers of cases of dependency, some forms of special pensions and support of widows, mothers, minors, and handicapped persons, alimony advances, rent subsidies, support of families of compulsory military service personnel, etc, and Child Welfare Committee cases. The register is cumulative. Dossiers are thinned and filed when the persons concerned are dead or after 75 years. Dossiers remain in the register, when persons move to other municipalities, which means that a person may have dossiers in several municipal registers.

The register is called the Social Register, which thus is something quite different from the Social Register of American cities. It is not public, but it has been customary that access to it is permitted for responsible research on special request. If access is given, data must not be revealed to unauthorized persons or published in a way that makes it possible to identify specific persons or families.

Project Metropolitan applied to the National Social Board for permission to use data from the Social Registers on September 29, 1972, and the permission was granted on October 10, 1972. The excerpting of data was started in January, 1973, with the Social Register of Stockholm City, after which the registers of the suburban municipalities were searched. The work went on until December, 1975, when the last municipal register was gone through, with three to five assistants employed except during summer vacations. In all, nine assistants were engaged in the excerpting work, under the direction of Ann-Marie Janson. In pre-tests a form was tried out and adapted into a fourpage version that was then used for the cases, although all pages did not apply to all cases. The excerpting inevitably involved various decisions that must be made. A manual was worked out and revised after discussions within the staff and continuously as new problems were come upon and solved. The assistants were instructed and excerpted test cases. Misunderstandings, as revealed when excerpts were systematically inspected and the work supervised, were discussed and corrected.

At least three conditions made the excerpting difficult and time consuming. First, the Social Registers are local, i.e. kept by each municipality, with no general register run centrally and county wise. This means that each cohort member must be searched in the register of each municipality he or she lived in. Since registers outside the metropolitan area could not be searched, it also means that members are out of risk to be included until they arrive at the area or as soon as they leave the area until they return.

Secondly, cases are filed on the head of the household. Thus, cohort members must be searched under the names of their father, non-married mother or other guardians, and whenever there is a change of the head of the household, a case is entered in another or new dossier. However, as soon as youngsters reach sixteen, they are considered to be their own heads, even if living with their parents. Hence, from the age of sixteen cohort members have dossiers of their own, if any, until marriage. Then the girls have their cases, including those concerning their children, filed under the name of the husband. Since only cases between 1953 and 1972, inclusive, are excerpted, few cases concerning families of procreation of cohort members are recorded.

Thirdly, in principle a dossier contains all acts and minutes connected with a case, which means that some dossiers holding several complicated cases reach huge proportions. Even a fairly ordinary case often produces a considerable amount of papers. Hence excerpting must be highly selective. All papers simply cannot be read in detail. The excerpter must look for certain key papers and just glance through the rest of the material. To reduce subjective factors the form asked for factual data that called for as little interpretation as possible, such as amount of cash paid or the paragraph of the Child Welfare Act referred to in decision.

Even so, some errors are unavoidable. Whatever systematic procedures are employed, there is always the risk that some items are overlooked, unless the excerpter spends an unlimited amount of time on the complicated cases. Sometimes the dossier is incomplete with some minutes or reports missing as they have been mislaid or are requested by a District Agency, and sometimes the records are unclear or just misinterpreted. For instance, it was not always clear to the excerpters whether a sum paid to an applicant was of the kind that should be repaid and, even less, what sums were eventually repaid. On this point the general instructions were to include all sums paid but with repaid sums subtracted.

It is assumed that on the whole the recorded data are adequate for the intended uses within the project.

Data were coded according to a detailed manual. Even here the procedure was as straightforward as possible with a minimum of subjective decisions required. The codework was carried out by assistants who had taken part in the field-work. Codings were extensively checked on the code sheets and again by computer runs after key punching. Records are divided in three periods, 1953-1959, 1960-1965, and 1966-1972, called periods I, II, and III.

In the planning, Karl Öhström, head of the Stockholm City Social Register was consulted. Mr Öhström, as other heads of municipal registers, kindly allowed his personnel to help with the excerpting by picking the required dossiers out of the files. In Stockholm City the excerpting was extended to detailed descriptions of the Child Welfare Committee’s juvenile delinquency cases from 1966 till the sixteenth birthdays of the cohort members. These data were analyzed in Research Report No. 7, 1977, and are not included in the present code book.

In reading the tables of Social Register data one should keep in mind that 1,373 boys and 1,353 girls were not born in the area but moved in at some time before November l, 1963, and that before their moving in possible dependency of their families of orientation and possible Child Welfare Committee cases cannot be recorded. Furthermore, in May, 1966, 151 boys and 137 girls and on November 1, 1970, 503 boys and 444 girls had left the area, so that their cases are not registered within the area. Thus in period I the records of at least 2,726 cohort members are missing or incomplete. In period II few records are incomplete, almost none around 1964 and about 300 near the end of the period. At the beginning of period III some 300 members are missing and at the end some 950. Obviously, a family or cohort member can leave the area for some time and then return. It can safely be assumed that the families and members have dependency and Child Welfare Committee records in the years outside the area that do not differ greatly from the rates for families within the area in the same years, although it is reasonable to assume the rates to differ somewhat.