Intergenerational downward ties and fertility intentions in Italy

Ester L. Rizzi, Université Catholique de Louvain
David I. Kertzer, Brown University

“Familism” can be identified with the people’s attitude to consider their own utility and family utility as being one and the same thing. Familistic practices and attitudes - which concern downward (toward children) and upward (toward the old) intergenerational ties - has been associated to Italian couples’ reproductive behavior. However, results differ at the macro and the micro level. This paper will focus on intergenerational downward ties in Italy and their effect, at the individual level, on fertility intentions. The controversial term “familism” will be, firstly, defined in connection with other expressions like “strong family”, “stem-family” and “too much family”. Intergenerational downward ties and the related practices, specified as part of the broader frame of familism, will be, then, operationalize. Finally, intergenerational downward practices will be considered in connection with Italian couples’ reproductive intentions in a multivariate analysis. We will analyze data from the “Generations and Gender” survey for Italy. Our dependent variable is the couple intention to have a child (or another child) in the next three years. Intergenerational downward ties will refer to grandparents’ informal childcare, monetary transfers toward children, and satisfaction with relationship with parents. Grandparents’ attitude toward another grandchild – as perceived by interviewer - is also taken into account. We will control for variables that can affect grandparent’s involvement and fertility intentions, as the life stage of grandparents and grandchildren, along with classical control variables (partners’ education, partners’ working status, region of residence). According to preliminary analyses, geographical proximity of mother-in-law seems to have a negative effect on woman’s intentions to have a second and a third child. The hypothesis of an intergeneration downward normative pressure to limit fertility is considered.

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Presented in Session 65: Family networks and fertility