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Participation and Fertility Behavior of Italian Women: The Role of Market Rigidities

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  • Daniela del Boca

    ()

Abstract

Economic models of household behavior typically yield the prediction that increases in schooling levels and wage rates of married women lead to increases in their labor supply and reductions in fertility. In Italy, as well as in other Southern European countries, low labor market participation rates of married women are observed together with low birth rates. Our proposed explanation for this apparent anomaly involves the Italian institutional structure, particularly as reflected in rigidities and imperfections in the labor and housing markets and characteristics of the publicly-funded child care system. These rigidities tend to simultaneously increase the costs of having children and to discourage the labor market participation of married women. We analyze a model of labor supply and fertility, using panel data from the Bank of Italy which have been merged with regional data describing the available opportunities in each sample household’s environment. The empirical results show that the availability of child care and part time work increase both the probability of working and having a child. Policies which would provide more flexible working hours choices and greater child care availability would aid in reducing the financial burden of children.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniela del Boca, 1999. "Participation and Fertility Behavior of Italian Women: The Role of Market Rigidities," CHILD Working Papers wp10_00, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpc:wplist:wp10_00
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    File URL: http://www.child.carloalberto.org/images/wp/child10_2000.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, April.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Guiso, L. & Jappelli, T., 1996. "Intergenerational Transfers, Borrowing Constraints and the Timing of Home Ownership," Papers 275, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
    5. Connelly, Rachel, 1992. "The Effect of Child Care Costs on Married Women's Labor Force Participation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 83-90, February.
    6. Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
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    Cited by:

    1. Massimiliano Bratti, 2003. "Labour force participation and marital fertility of Italian women: The role of education," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 16(3), pages 525-554, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor Market Decisions; Fertility; Child care.;

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • C3 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior

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