Volume 35 - Article 10 | Pages 253–282  

Uncertain lives: Insights into the role of job precariousness in union formation in Italy

By Daniele Vignoli, Valentina Tocchioni, Silvana Salvini

Abstract

Background: Growing economic uncertainty has become an intrinsic characteristic of contemporary globalized societies in which an increasing number of people are moving in and out of jobs that may give little meaning to their lives. Among other things, economic uncertainty may affect union formation practices.

Objective: In this study we address the relationship between employment uncertainty and union formation in Italy. The country typifies a unique case-study in light of its familistic organization, but remains largely under-studied in this respect.

Methods: We adopt a mixed-method approach. The qualitative analysis – conducted with focus group techniques – provided an in-depth understanding into the mechanisms of how job precariousness may affect individual perceptions and beliefs on union formation in Italy. The quantitative analysis – conducted through event-history techniques – verified how strong these mechanisms are at the population level.

Results: The qualitative exploration allows us to advance the hypothesis – new for the Italian setting – that labor market uncertainty favors cohabitation while employment stability facilitates marriage. The subsequent quantitative analysis provided strong support for this hypothesis for the female population. For men, the largest contrast was found between any work and no work.

Contribution: Our findings support the idea that in Italy cohabitation – in contrast to marriage – is more compatible with employment uncertainties of today’s labor market. These reflections are valid for women and employed men: When faced with uncertain prospects, they seem to prefer cohabitation to marriage in the light of its more uncertain nature. Alternatively, they might decide to postpone marriage until their outlook on life is more optimistic.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

The positive impact of women’s employment on divorce: Context, selection, or anticipation?
Volume 38 - Article 37

Religion and union formation in Italy: Catholic precepts, social pressure, and tradition
Volume 31 - Article 35

Things change: Women’s and men’s marital disruption dynamics in Italy during a time of social transformations, 1970-2003
Volume 24 - Article 5

‘Silver splits’ in Europe: The role of grandchildren and other correlates
Volume 46 - Article 21

Diverse pathways in young Italians’ entrance into sexual life: The association with gender and birth cohort
Volume 46 - Article 13

Union formation under conditions of uncertainty: The objective and subjective sides of employment uncertainty
Volume 45 - Article 5

Time preferences and fertility: Evidence from Italy
Volume 44 - Article 50

Happy parents’ tweets: An exploration of Italian Twitter data using sentiment analysis
Volume 40 - Article 25

Persistent joblessness and fertility intentions
Volume 40 - Article 8

Exploring the childless universe: Profiles of women and men without children in Italy
Volume 38 - Article 19

Towards a new understanding of cohabitation: Insights from focus group research across Europe and Australia
Volume 31 - Article 34

Whose job instability affects the likelihood of becoming a parent in Italy? A tale of two partners
Volume 26 - Article 2

Rising marital disruption in Italy and its correlates
Volume 20 - Article 4

Fertility change in Egypt: From second to third birth
Volume 15 - Article 18

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

The effect of migration and time spent abroad on migrants’ health: A home/host country perspective
Volume 50 - Article 37    | Keywords: Albania, health, Italy, migrants, propensity score

Age-heterogamous partnerships: Prevalence and partner differences by marital status and gender composition
Volume 50 - Article 23    | Keywords: age heterogamy, assortative mating, cohabitation, marriage, same-sex couples, unions

Ultra-Orthodox fertility and marriage in the United States: Evidence from the American Community Survey
Volume 49 - Article 29    | Keywords: age at first marriage, American Community Survey (ACS), fertility, Judaism, marriage, religion, total fertility rate (TFR), Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

An alternative version of the second demographic transition? Changing pathways to first marriage in Japan
Volume 49 - Article 16    | Keywords: cohabitation, first marriages, pattern of disadvantage, premarital children, second demographic transition, transition

Subnational variations in births and marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea
Volume 48 - Article 30    | Keywords: COVID-19, fertility, Korea, marriage