Couples’ childbearing behaviour in Italy: which of the partners is leading it?
Journal: Vienna Yearbook of Population Research
Volume: 9, 2011, pages 157-178
Publisher: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
Maria Rita Testa (1), Laura Cavalli (2), and Alessandro Rosina(3)
(1) (correspondence author), Vienna Institute of Demography, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital.Wohllebengasse 12 14, 6th floor, 1040 Vienna, Austria. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(2) University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
(3) Catholic University of Milan, Italy.
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.