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Couples’ childbearing behaviour in Italy: which of the partners is leading it?

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  • Alessandro Rosina
  • Laura Cavalli
  • Maria Rita Testa

Abstract

Using data on 2356 Italian couples from the longitudinal survey on Family and Social Subjects conducted between 2003 and 2007, we examine the relationship between child-timing intentions and subsequent reproductive outcomes. Our hypothesis is that in Italy the lack of agreement between partners has an inhibiting effect on couple's pregnancy-seeking behaviour because inertia and social norms favour the partner who does not want to have a(nother) child. We find that this holds true only for couples who have already two or more children whereas at lower parities conflicting intentions result in either a middle fertility outcome or childbearing levels similar to those observed for couples who agree on having a child. Women have a greater influence on childbearing decisions than men. The explicit consideration of a partner's disagreement increases the predictive accuracy of fertility intentions. Our findings strongly support the adoption of a couple-oriented approach in fertility research.

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  • Alessandro Rosina & Laura Cavalli & Maria Rita Testa, 2011. "Couples’ childbearing behaviour in Italy: which of the partners is leading it?," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 9(1), pages 157-178.
  • Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:9:y:2011:i:1:p:157-178
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    1. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
    2. Ellen Fried & Sandra Hofferth & J. Udry, 1980. "Parity-Specific and two-sex utility models of reproductive intentions," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 17(1), pages 1-11, February.
    3. Rodolfo Bulatao, 1981. "Values and disvalues of children in successive childbearing decisions," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(1), pages 1-25, February.
    4. Elizabeth Thomson & Elaine McDonald & Larry Bumpass, 1990. "Fertility desires and fertility: Hers, his, and theirs," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 27(4), pages 579-588, November.
    5. S. Morgan, 1985. "Individual and couple intentions for more children: A research note," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 22(1), pages 125-132, February.
    6. Elizabeth Thomson, 1997. "Couple childbearing desires, intentions, and births," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 34(3), pages 343-354, August.
    7. David Voas, 2003. "Conflicting Preferences: A Reason Fertility Tends to Be Too High or Too Low," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 29(4), pages 627-646.
    8. Del Boca, Daniela & Pasqua, Silvia & Pronzato, Chiara D., 2004. "Why Are Fertility and Women's Employment Rates So Low in Italy? Lessons from France and the U.K," IZA Discussion Papers 1274, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Elizabeth Thomson & Jan Hoem, 1998. "Couple childbearing plans and births in Sweden," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 35(3), pages 315-322, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Rita Testa & Laura Cavalli & Alessandro Rosina, 2014. "The Effect of Couple Disagreement about Child-Timing Intentions: A Parity-Specific Approach," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 40(1), pages 31-53, March.
    2. Arnstein Aassve & Bruno Arpino & Nicoletta Balbo, 2016. "It Takes Two to Tango: Couples’ Happiness and Childbearing," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(3), pages 339-354, August.
    3. Rachel Margolis & Mikko Myrskylä, 2015. "Parental Well-being Surrounding First Birth as a Determinant of Further Parity Progression," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(4), pages 1147-1166, August.
    4. repec:spr:eurpop:v:33:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10680-016-9408-y is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Anne-Kristin Kuhnt & Heike Trappe, 2013. "Easier said than done: childbearing intentions and their realization in a short term perspective," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2013-018, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    6. Maria Rita Testa, 2012. "Couple disagreement about short-term fertility desires in Austria: Effects on intentions and contraceptive behaviour," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 26(3), pages 63-98, February.

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