Regional Context and Fertility in Contemporary Italy

Michael J. White, Brown University
Giuseppe Gabrielli, Università di Bari
Laura Bernardi, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
David I. Kertzer, Brown University
Sabrina Perra, Brown University

Several countries have experienced persistent very low fertility. The case of Italy has attracted disproportionate attention, because conditions promoting decline (female-labor force participation, religious secularism, weakening of kin networks) were less in evidence. Nevertheless, Italy has continued to experience fertility rates well below replacement, dipping to a TFR as low as 1.2. What may be less well appreciated is that internal Italian regional differentials, both in levels and changes in childbearing rates, have also been manifest throughout this time. In this paper we examine sources of variation in Italy’s recent childbearing behavior. In so doing we evaluate hypotheses that emphasize structural socioeconomic factors and more cultural factors. To do so we estimate a multilevel contextual event history model, regressing transition to first birth and second birth on an array of personal characteristics, family background, and selected socioeconomic characteristics of the province or region.

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Presented in Session 84: Fertility Trends in Low Fertility Societies