Income and Childbearing Decisions: evidence from Italy

Institute for Social and Economic Research, ISER working papers 01/2006;
Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT During the early 1990s, Italy has been one of the first countries to reach lowest-low fertility, i.e. below 1.3 children per woman. In this paper we focus on the period during which such fertility levels arose in order to assess the impact of income on fertility decisions. So far, analyses have suffered from the lack of appropriate data; we create a new data set making use of two different surveys from Bank of Italy (SHIW) and ISTAT (Labor Force Survey) and we apply discrete-time duration models. For first births, we find evidence of non-proportional hazards and of some 'recuperation' effect: women with high predicted wages tend to delay the first birth, subsequently recuperating. For second and third births, instead, the availability of a good child-care system seems to play a key role and income exhibits small intensity. In a final section, we explore the possible effect on fertility of an increase in financial support for poorer families that took place in 1999.

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    ABSTRACT: Using data from the Italian Labour Force Survey to reconstruct fertility histories for a large dataset of women, as well as aggregate-level statistics on abortion by parity and education, we assess the impact of a change in monetary transfers for households with at least three children on the behaviour of Italian women. We use low education as a proxy for being exposed to the measure. We thus assess the impact by evaluating both temporal discontinuity (using a simple regression discontinuity idea) and the discontinuity in the differences between educational group. We focus on women having two children an assess 1) changes in the propensity to choose abortion instead of birth; 2) changes in the propensity to have a third birth. We find evidence of impact of the policy change, with a stronger evidence for the choice of voluntarily terminating a pregnancy with voluntary abortion.
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    ABSTRACT: This paper investigates the role of female earnings in childbearing decisions in two very different European contexts. By applying event history techniques to German and Danish register data during 1981-2001, we demonstrate how female earnings relate to first, second and third birth risks. Our study shows that female income is rather positively associated with fertility in Denmark, while the relationship is the opposite in West Germany. We interpret our finding against the background of social policies that encourage Danish women to get established in the labor market before having children, while German policies during the 1980s and 1990s rather discouraged maternal employment.


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