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Childless or Childfree? Paths to Voluntary Childlessness in Italy


  • Maria Letizia Tanturri
  • Letizia Mencarini


This article investigates childlessness in Italy. Trends in childlessness are presented and compared with trends elsewhere in Europe. Different paths to childlessness are outlined, using data from a survey carried out among childless women aged 40-44 in five Italian cities in 2002. Individual characteristics of the childless and reasons for childlessness are investigated. As many as one-third of the interviewees who live with a partner and do not suffer from any physical impediment are voluntarily childless. These women, in contrast to mothers, appear to be less religious and to have partners who are less religious; they tend to come from smaller families; to have been in a nonmarital cohabitation at least once in life; to have entered their first union later; and to have had, in the initial period of their union, temporary work and flexible work schedules and limited leisure time. In other cases, childlessness is the unintended outcome of a decision to delay having a child or the result of adverse external circumstances, particularly dissolution of partnership. Copyright (c) 2008 The Population Council, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Letizia Tanturri & Letizia Mencarini, 2008. "Childless or Childfree? Paths to Voluntary Childlessness in Italy," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(1), pages 51-77.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:34:y:2008:i:1:p:51-77

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    Cited by:

    1. Helen Peterson & Kristina Engwall, 2016. "Missing Out on the Parenthood Bonus? Voluntarily Childless in a “Child-friendly” Society," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 540-552, December.
    2. Melinda Mills & Katia Begall & Letizia Mencarini & Maria Letizia Tanturri, 2008. "Gender equity and fertility intentions in Italy and the Netherlands," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 18(1), pages 1-26, February.
    3. Katharina Herlofson & Gunhild Hagestad, 2011. "Challenges in moving from macro to micro: Population and family structures in ageing societies," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(10), pages 337-370, August.
    4. Laura Bernardi & Andreas Klärner, 2014. "Social networks and fertility," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(22), pages 641-670, March.
    5. Marcantonio Caltabiano & Maria Castiglioni & Alessandro Rosina, 2009. "Lowest-Low Fertility: Signs of a recovery in Italy?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 21(23), pages 681-718, November.
    6. Paula Gobbi, 2013. "A model of voluntary childlessness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 963-982, July.
    7. Luis Rosero-Bixby & Teresa Castro-Martín & Teresa Martín-García, 2009. "Is Latin America starting to retreat from early and universal childbearing?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 20(9), pages 169-194, February.
    8. Monika Mynarska & Anna Matysiak & Anna Rybiñska & Valentina Tocchioni & Daniele Vignoli, 2013. "Diverse Paths into Childlessness over the Life Course," Working Papers 58, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
    9. repec:spr:eurpop:v:33:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10680-016-9404-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Valentina Tocchioni, 2016. "Exploring the childless universe: profiles and fertility intentions of men and women without children in Italy," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2016_09, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    11. Francesca Luppi, 2016. "When is the Second One Coming? The Effect of Couple’s Subjective Well-Being Following the Onset of Parenthood," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(3), pages 421-444, August.
    12. Le Moglie, Marco & Mencarini, Letizia & Rapallini, Chiara, 2015. "Is it just a matter of personality? On the role of subjective well-being in childbearing behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 453-475.

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