Couples’ Childbearing Behaviour in Italy: Which of the Partners Is Leading It?

Maria Rita Testa, Vienna Institute of Demography
Laura Cavalli, Università degli Studi di Verona
Alessandro Rosina, Università Cattolica, Milan

Using data on 2356 Italian couples from the longitudinal survey on Family and Social Subjects conducted between 2003 and 2007, we examine the relationship between child-timing intentions and subsequent reproductive outcomes. Our hypothesis is that in Italy the lack of agreement between partners has an inhibiting effect on couple’s pregnancy-seeking behaviour because inertia and social norms favour the partner who does not want to have a(nother) child. We find that this holds true only for couples who have already two or more children whereas at lower parities conflicting intentions result in either a middle fertility outcome or childbearing levels similar to those observed for couples who agree on having a child. Women have a greater influence on childbearing decisions than men. The explicit consideration of a partner’s disagreement increases the predictive accuracy of fertility intentions. Our findings strongly support the adoption of a couple-oriented approach in fertility research.

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Presented in Session 66: Partners and Childbearing