Fertility intentions in lowest-low fertility countries: the case of Italy, Bulgaria, West and East Germany

Paola Di Giulio, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Christoph Buehler, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Andreas Ette, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany
Romina Fraboni, Instituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT)
Kerstin Ruckdeschel, Bundesinstitut für Bevoelkerungsforschung

Despite the many differences that exist between Italy, Bulgaria and Germany, the three countries share one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe. However, they differ in the level of state support of the family and the role of informal supportive networks. Italy and Bulgaria, on the one hand, share very low levels of public support of the family. Consequently, in both countries informal supportive networks have a strong tradition and a high relevance for getting things done. In Germany, however, support by family policy is stronger and the relative importance of supportive networks is weaker in comparison to the other two countries. Our purpose is to understand how supportive networks influence the formation of fertility intentions in two different settings, i.e., in countries, like Italy and Bulgaria, that are characterized by a high significance of informal social support and countries, like Germany, with a prevalence of legally regulated institutional support. We use data from the “Generations and Gender Program”, a new comparative survey that was conducted recently in all three countries. We perform logistic regression on the intentions of male and female respondents to have a first, second, or third child within the next three years. The analysis will be conducted separately for the three countries. We expect that in Germany informal networks are of less importance in general, except informal childcare in West Germany, as previous studies have highlighted. In Italy and Bulgaria we expect not only the informal support may have more influence on fertility decisions, but also that the differences in family support may also concern the size and the kind of the support. For Italy, non-monetary support, such as child care from people that do not live in the household, can be crucial in fertility related decisions or, perhaps, more influent than monetary support.

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Presented in Session 44: Fertility intentions and preferences