The dawn of reproductive change in NE Italy. A micro-analysis using a new source

Angelica Bazza, Università di Padova
Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, University of Padua
Marcantonio Caltabiano, Università di Messina

The historical decline of fertility in Italy has never been studied with micro-data, except for some researches restricted to limited areas. In this paper we use the individual retrospective fertility survey combined with the 1971 Census in Italy. It is an unpublished source, but of good quality, at least for the variables of our interest. We analyze data on Veneto (the region of Venice, NE of Italy), covering a statistically significant sample, extended to 20% of the female population. It is possible to compare the fertility of cohorts born in 1882-1931 (whose TFR decreased from 4.5 to 2.4 ). The main objectives are to identify the forerunners of the decline and explore pathways of diffusion of birth control, considering both the differences by social class and those by micro-territorial area (the 580 municipalities of the region). After describing the trends of marriage and fertility by education, we will use multilevel regression models clustering data by municipality. Using this methodology, we include as covariates also territorial data not available by the Census source (e.g. territorial indices of secularization), that could be linked to marital and fertility behavior. The preliminary descriptive results show that: (1) The average age at marriage and the proportion of unmarried women decrease cohort after cohort; (2) The differences by education in marital behavior shrink ; (3) The few graduate women born in the last decades the 19th century already had a TFR around two; (4) This value is approached – but never reached – by the women with low educational qualifications born fifty years after.

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Presented in Session 69: Fertility transition: the past and presence