Childless men and women in Italy: same outcome, different profiles?

Maria-Letizia Tanturri, University of Padua

In Italy, very little is known about men who come to the end of their reproductive life without giving birth, and the factors that might have determined it. It seems sensible to hypothesize that some variables are associated to childlessness similarly for both men and women (e.g. number of siblings), while other can affect the probability of being voluntary childless in a different way by sex. This paper investigates childlessness among men in later adult life in Italy, using data on a sub sample of 30-49 years old men (7,254) from the Multipurpose Italian survey, Family and Social Actors, carried out by the National Institute of Statistics in 2003. A weighted multinomial logit model is used to contrast “voluntary childless men” with the other categories: “un-voluntary childless” and fathers. The results will be compared with an analogous analysis carried out on childless women in the same age groups. Five groups of dependent variables have been considered: early life course characteristics; background characteristics, family formation variables; work related variables, attitudes and values. Results seem to corroborate the hypothesis that voluntary childlessness is a common behaviour among men and women, but its determinants partly differ, with particular regard to socio-economic status. Voluntary childlessness among men seems linked mainly to poor education, poor health and worse social status. Conversely among women the opposite is true: those with a university degree and a managerial position are more likely to be voluntary childless, and not mothers Family disruption or celibacy are common cause for not having and not willing to have children for both men and women, as well as secularisation and anti-traditionalist attitudes.

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Presented in Session 58: Childlessness