The Route to Very Low Fertility: The Case of Italy

Ying Liu, Brown University

Italy’s very low fertility rate challenges contemporary theories of childbearing and family building. Among high-income countries, Italy was presumed to have characteristics of family values and female labor force participation that would favor higher fertility than its European neighbors. We improve the understanding of the Italian case exploiting detailed longitudinal data to examine the key sequence of family building events: first union, first birth, and second birth. We analyze person-month data from the Italian Longitudinal Family Study (ILFI). Drawn from an original sample of 4,404 households, ILFI includes detailed fertility employment, residential, and marital histories, making it especially valuable for shedding light on the Italian case. Preliminary results indicate important effects of religious marriage and suggest cohort effects in its relevance. Results for schooling and female employment are also apparent. Regional effects and secular trends persist beyond these controls. Our aim is to provide a decomposition of these influences.

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Presented in Poster Session 7