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Gender equity and fertility intentions in Italy and the Netherlands

Author

Listed:
  • Melinda Mills

    (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)

  • Katia Begall

    (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main)

  • Letizia Mencarini

    (Bocconi University)

  • Maria Letizia Tanturri

    (Università degli Studi di Padova (UNIPD))

Abstract

Fertility levels have fallen drastically in most industrialized countries. Diverse theoretical and empirical frameworks have had difficulty in explaining these unprecedented low levels of fertility. More recently, however, attention has turned from classic explanations, such as women’s increased labour market participation, to gender equity as the essential link to understand this phenomenon. The increase in women’s labour market participation did not prompt an increase in men’s domestic duties, which is often referred to women’s ‘dual burden’ or ‘second shift’. Institutions and policies within countries also facilitate or constrain the combination of women’s employment with fertility. This paper provides an empirical test of gender equity theory by examining whether the unequal division of household labour leads to lower fertility intentions of women in different institutional contexts. Italy constitutes a case of high gender inequity, low female labour market participation and the lowest-low fertility. The Netherlands has moderate to low gender inequity, high part-time female labour market participation and comparatively higher fertility. Using data from the 2003 Italian Multipurpose Survey - Family and Social Actors and the 2004/5 Dutch sample from the European Social Survey, a series of logistic regression models test this theory. A central finding is that the unequal division of household labour only has a significant impact on women’s fertility intentions when they already carry the load of high paid work hours or children, a finding that is particularly significant for working women in Italy.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:18:y:2008:i:1
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Anxo, Dominique & Flood, Lennart & Mencarini, Letizia & Pailhé, Ariane & Solaz, Anne & Tanturri, Maria Letizia, 2007. "Time Allocation between Work and Family over the Life-Cycle: A Comparative Gender Analysis of Italy, France, Sweden and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 3193, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. 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.
    3. Bettio, Francesca & Villa, Paola, 1998. "A Mediterranean Perspective on the Breakdown of the Relationship between Participation and Fertility," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 137-171, March.
    4. Karsten Hank & Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2000. "Does the availability of childcare influence the employment of mothers? Findings from western Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2000-003, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    5. Daniela Del Boca, 2002. "The effect of child care and part time opportunities on participation and fertility decisions in Italy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(3), pages 549-573.
    6. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
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    8. Francesca Bettio & Paola Villa, 1996. "A Mediterranean Perspective on the Break-Down of the Relationship between Participation and Fertility," Department of Economics Working Papers 9605, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
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    10. repec:cai:poeine:pope_604_0389 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fertility; fertility intentions; gender; paid and unpaid work;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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