Patterns of low fertility in Italy

David I. Kertzer, Brown University
Laura Bernardi, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Giuseppe Gabrielli, Università di Bari
Michael J. White, Brown University

This paper reports findings from an innovative research project which seeks to explain very low fertility in Italy through a combination of anthropological and demographic approaches. Economic and institutional forces are viewed as having effects on individual behavior primarily through the lens of cultural processes. Findings are based on anthropological fieldwork and in-depth interviewing in four different cities, and on the analysis of recent nationally representative surveys - the Italian Households Panel 1997-2003 and the Family and Social Subjects surveys of 1998 and 2003. We employ event history and multilevel modeling to account for the dynamic determinants of the transition to first and second births in Italy’s different regions. Results combining qualitative and quantitative evidence show the distinctive character of the culture of reproduction of the southern regions and account for its specificities. The paper concludes by articulating an integrated cultural/economic/political explanatory framework for understanding fertility.

Presented in Session 43: Low fertility in Europe