Couple disagreement and reproductive decision-making rules in Italy

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

Using couple data from a longitudinal study conducted in Italy between 2003 and 2007 we examined the effect of couple disagreement on childbearing behavior and compare the predictive power of couples’ short-term childbearing intentions for partners who have concordant and discordant views. We tested four different decision rules that might be used by couples in disagreement to resolve their conflict: sphere of influence rule, power rule, golden mean rule and social drift rule. We started from the hypothesis advanced in an earlier study that women prevail in reproductive decision-making because childbearing lies mainly in their sphere of influence in Italy. We found that either both partners have equal power in negotiation about having a child or women tend to have a greater influence on the final decision, and moreover, their prevalence seems to be not strictly responsive to couple gender equality in terms of division of housework and child-care tasks and intra-family distribution of bargaining power. The disagreement is shifted more toward not having a child than toward having a child among couples at parity two or above who adopt a symmetrical veto power model but produces an intermediate childbearing outcome at lower parities which also depends on which of the partners has a stronger child intention among childless couples. Results suggest that the predictive power of short-term fertility intentions strongly improve both partners’ view is considered in the fertility model and support the adoption of a couple approach in fertility research.

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Presented in Session 94: Fertility decisions within unions