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The impact of education on fertility in Italy. Changes across cohorts and south–north differences

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  • Roberto Impicciatore

    () (University of Bologna)

  • Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna

    () (University of Padova)

Abstract

Abstract Several studies suggest that over the last decades in Italy the negative effects of women’s education on fertility have attenuated. However, recent analyses developed in other countries highlight that selection bias and potential endogeneity of education should be taken into account. Using data from the ISTAT multipurpose survey ‘Famiglia e Soggetti Sociali’, conducted in 2009, we apply a multiprocess model (one hazard equation for the first three birth orders and one ordered probit equation for the probability to achieve a specific level of education) with potentially correlated unobserved heterogeneity components at the individual level. Our results show that the role of education on fertility behaviours not only remains important but also tends to have an increasing relevance among younger cohorts. On the one hand, a higher proportion of highly educated women postpone first childbirth or remain childless; on the other hand, among those who decide to become mothers, we found a positive effect of higher education on the propensity to have a second child, a result that can be interpreted in terms of a time-squeeze effect among tertiary educated women. Relevant territorial differences emerge relating to the effect of higher education on the third child birth, being positive in the north of the country and negative in the south.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Impicciatore & Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, 2017. "The impact of education on fertility in Italy. Changes across cohorts and south–north differences," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 51(5), pages 2293-2317, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:qualqt:v:51:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s11135-016-0388-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s11135-016-0388-0
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    Keywords

    Fertility; Education; Hazard models; Selection bias; Unobserved heterogeneity;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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