Persistent low fertility. Have Italians forgotten to recover?

Marcantonio Caltabiano, Università di Messina
Maria Castiglioni, Università di Padova
Alessandro Rosina, Università Cattolica, Milan

Italy is a country with persistent low fertility: TFR reached a record low in the mid 1990s, with a TFR of less than 1.2. Fertility rates since then have gradually increased, up to today’s current fertility level of 1.35 children per woman. The moderate yet significant increase in fertility in the last 10 years is further specified by diverse regional patterns. In the northern regions of Italy, period fertility has returned to the levels observed in the early 1980s. In southern regions, on the other hand, period fertility has continued to decline to very low levels. Even if one considers cohort fertility, Italian fertility levels still result particularly low. According to the Council of Europe’s 2005 Demographic Yearbook, Italy has the lowest total cohort fertility rate (CTFR) in Europe, and there is no indication that the decline in cohort fertility has come to a halt. In the first part of our paper we present and discuss current developments with regard to fertility in Italy, using data recently published by the Italian National Institute of Statistics. We use a cohort approach, showing changes both in CTFR and in the timing of births for the 1950-1980 cohorts. We also apply the model proposed by R. Lesthaeghe (2001) to evaluate the intensity of fertility recover and postponement. In the second part of our paper, we focus on “late fertility” (entry into motherhood after the age of 35), using individual level data from the 2003 Istat multipurpose survey on the family. We investigate both the determinants of postponement (or the propensity to reach age 35 without having had a child) as well as the determinants of recovery (or the propensity to subsequently have a child for those women who reach age 35 with parity zero and parity one).

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Presented in Session 81: Low Fertility in Southern Europe