SES and the fertility decline in a rural community of Northern Italy. An application of the own children method to the 1881 and 1936 censuses

Paola Pizzetti, University of Parma
Matteo Manfredini, Università degli Studi di Parma

Italy is well-known for its delay in the process of demographic transition, at least compared to the other Western European countries. At the end of the 19th century, in fact, a generalized decline of fertility was still to come, and many areas of Italy were still characterized by a natural regime of fertility. Moreover, in its first stages, the process of fertility decline intersected with the pronatalistic population policy of the Fascist regime. In this work, we apply the Own Children Method to the census of 1881 and 1936 with the purpose to reconstruct the trend of fertility in the Emilian rural population of Novellara. The analysis aims at describing the phases of fertility decline in this rural society on the eve of profound social and economic changes and the role that pronatalistic laws of the Fascist regime had on the local population. Moreover, we will get some insight in the analysis of SES differentials in fertility across time. We want to shed some light on the social groups that anticipated or delayed birth control and the reasons that might have led individuals to assume specific reproductive behaviors, especially in the light of the various categories of farmers and the different systems of land tenure existing in the area.

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Presented in Session 31: Infant and child mortality and fertility: reproduction in 19th and early 20th century Europe