Intended fertility and employment patterns around the childbirth: the case of Italy

Maria Rita Testa, Vienna Institute of Demography
Martina Lo Conte, Instituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT)
Sabrina Prati, Instituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT)

In the post-transitional societies the inconsistency between intended and actual fertility has taken the form of an excess of desired fertility, that is, on average, 0.6 children per woman in the European Union countries. In Italy the expected number of children is, on average, around 2 children, while the total fertility rate is 1.3 children per woman in 2003. Much of the discussion on the inconsistency between intended and actual fertility overlooks the circumstances that intentions may change over the life course and possible discrepancies have not necessarily to do with the invalidity of the indicator related to the intended number of children. In particular, the number of children a person wants may be under reconsideration in response to changes in employment conditions, economic prospects, and other important factors that may be well known only after the birth of a first child, such as: availability of childcare structures and support of grandparents, limits of space in the house, and partners’ involvement in children rearing activities. The availability of the Italian Birth Sample Survey allows us to investigate fertility preferences in a specific group of women, new mothers, who are interviewed at a particular stage of their life course, 18-21 months after their delivery, and asked whether they want or not to have another baby. The aim of the paper is to study the determinants of intentions to have a second child. Logistic regression models are used to investigate the effects of difficulties and changes in life experienced with the birth of the first child on mothers’ intentions to go ahead in the reproductive career. We will pay particular attention to the possible worsening of work opportunities and employment conditions. In addition, we will consider the role played by the regional context.

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Presented in Session 20: Fertility employment and the labour market