Socioeconomic conditions and fertility of married couples in Italy: a comparison 1994-2004

Elisabetta Santarelli, PhD in Demography

During the last decade, Italy has been showing important economic and demographic changes. It experienced a little increase of fertility, TFR from 1.21 to 1.33 (Istat 2006), a general increase in education, especially for women, and growing female labour force participation (Del Boca and Pasqua 2001). As a consequence, the female role is changing and “dual earner model” is replacing the “male breadwinner” one. These changes could influence fertility behaviours of couples. In this work we aim at analysing the association between fertility patterns and socioeconomic conditions of married couples during the years 1994-2004. We focus on human capital of partners, their labour market position and financial resources (income, private and public money transfers). The comparison is carried out by techniques of multivariate statistical analysis on data from the first wave of ECHP - 1994 - and the first wave of EU-SILC - 2004 - (European Union Survey on Income and Living Conditions), the successor of ECHP. Notwithstanding some differences in data availability and definitions, we managed to reconstruct a lot of comparable variables from both surveys. Our first results from the tabular analysis show that the most important change happened in the female condition: women increased their educational level and improved their working conditions more than men (whose conditions were almost unchanged). Female contribution to the economic situation of the family is stronger and women are more and more devoted to work for the labour market. The percentage of childless couples arose while the percentage of couples with 2 children or more decreased in this 10-years period. Associations between income and fertility is negative in 1994 and also in 2004. At this stage of the work, the picture seems to be unchanging. Further developments will be on studying the associations between economic and demographic patterns.

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Presented in Session 95: Fertility in Western and Eastern Europe