Volume 34 - Article 1 | Pages 1–38  

The relationship between unemployment and fertility in Italy: A time-series analysis

By Alberto Cazzola, Lucia Pasquini, Aurora Angeli


Background: Many analyses demonstrate that rising unemployment rates generate a feeling of uncertainty that can influence fertility behaviour, inducing a short-term reduction in fertility. The impact of the recent economic crisis in Italy is controversial in the current demographic literature.

Objective: We wish to evaluate whether the recent changes in male and female unemployment are differently linked to fertility in different geographic areas of Italy.

Methods: We used the following official aggregate data for the period 1995-2012: unemployment quarterly rates from the Labour Force Surveys conducted by the National Institute of Statistics (Istat) and quarterly general fertility rates. We applied a monitoring approach for the identification of structural breaks inside both of the time series and used a dynamic regression to identify specific temporal links between unemployment and fertility.

Results: Both male and female unemployment rates are negatively associated with fertility in the northern and central regions of Italy. Unemployment rates seem to be good predictors of fertility in these regions, although male unemployment appears to further reduce fertility beyond the reduction predicted by female unemployment.

Conclusions: In northern and central Italy, the recent rise in unemployment is negatively correlated with the fertility rate. The recent economic downturn seems to be linked in a more ambiguous and weak way to the fertility rate in the southern area.

Author's Affiliation

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