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Eur J Popul. 2009 Feb;25(1):89-115. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

Italy's Path to Very Low Fertility: The Adequacy of Economic and Second Demographic Transition Theories: Le cheminement de l'Italie vers les très basses fécondités: Adéquation des théories économique et de seconde transition démographique.


The deep drop of the fertility rate in Italy to among the lowest in the world challenges contemporary theories of childbearing and family building. Among high-income countries, Italy was presumed to have characteristics of family values and female labor force participation that would favor higher fertility than its European neighbors to the north. We test competing economic and cultural explanations, drawing on new nationally representative, longitudinal data to examine first union, first birth, and second birth. Our event history analysis finds some support for economic determinants of family formation and fertility, but the clear importance of regional differences and of secularization suggests that such an explanation is at best incomplete and that cultural and ideational factors must be considered.

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