An analysis of Italian couples’ fertility decision-making process: second birth intentions and realizations

Laura Cavalli, Università Cattolica, Milan
Maria Rita Testa, Vienna Institute of Demography
Alessandro Rosina, Università Cattolica, Milan

The aim of this article is to analyse second births fertility intentions and their correspondence to subsequent reproductive behaviour. The adoption of a couple’s perspective allows us to treat in a unitary framework the concordant or discordant partners’ fertility intentions and its impact on effective behaviour. The household-level micro-data from the first and (as long as they are available) the second wave of the "Family and Social Subjects” survey are used in the analysis. The surveys were carried out by the Italian National Statistical Office in 2003 and in 2006. Since Italy is a country where childcare services are scarce and the main burden of childrearing lies on women, our main assumption is that Italian couples are particularly exposed to a conflict concerning a second birth if the woman is empowered, i.e., if she works, or she has a higher level of education as compared to the partner, or if the woman is unsatisfied about the gender division of family tasks. The analysis is based on multinomial logit models where the response variable has four categories denoting a couple's concordant intention, either positive or negative, or a couple's discordant intention, where either the female/male partner may or may not intend to become parents for the second time. We found that (preliminary results) the level of educational attainment of the female partner is not necessarily an obstacle for the second childbearing. However, a lack of agreement in the reproductive decision-making process is likely to occur in the Italian couples where the role of the woman is less traditional. In particular, full-time working women are more likely to be in disagreement with their partners in the decisions concerning having a second child, while the satisfaction with the division of every-day life tasks appear not to be relevant in shaping fertility intentions.

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Presented in Session 22: Fertility intentions and fertility realization