Volume 18 - Article 1 | Pages 1–26

Gender equity and fertility intentions in Italy and the Netherlands

By Melinda Mills, Katia Begall, Letizia Mencarini, Maria Letizia Tanturri

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter

 

 
Date received:05 Oct 2007
Date published:29 Feb 2008
Word count:7487
Keywords:fertility, fertility intentions, gender, paid and unpaid work
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2008.18.1
 

Abstract

Fertility levels have fallen drastically in most industrialized countries. Diverse theoretical and empirical frameworks have had difficulty in explaining these unprecedented low levels of fertility. More recently, however, attention has turned from classic explanations, such as women’s increased labour market participation, to gender equity as the essential link to understand this phenomenon. The increase in women’s labour market participation did not prompt an increase in men’s domestic duties, which is often referred to women’s ‘dual burden’ or ‘second shift’. Institutions and policies within countries also facilitate or constrain the combination of women’s employment with fertility.
This paper provides an empirical test of gender equity theory by examining whether the unequal division of household labour leads to lower fertility intentions of women in different institutional contexts. Italy constitutes a case of high gender inequity, low female labour market participation and the lowest-low fertility. The Netherlands has moderate to low gender inequity, high part-time female labour market participation and comparatively higher fertility. Using data from the 2003 Italian Multipurpose Survey - Family and Social Actors and the 2004/5 Dutch sample from the European Social Survey, a series of logistic regression models test this theory. A central finding is that the unequal division of household labour only has a significant impact on women’s fertility intentions when they already carry the load of high paid work hours or children, a finding that is particularly significant for working women in Italy.

Author's Affiliation

Melinda Mills - Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands [Email]
Katia Begall - Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany [Email]
Letizia Mencarini - Bocconi University, Italy [Email]
Maria Letizia Tanturri - Università degli Studi di Padova (UNIPD), Italy [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Parents’ subjective well-being after their first child and declining fertility expectations
Volume 39 - Article 9

» What is your couple type? Gender ideology, housework sharing, and babies
Volume 32 - Article 30

» The reproductive context of cohabitation in comparative perspective: Contraceptive use in the United States, Spain, and France
Volume 32 - Article 5

» How do educational and occupational resources relate to the timing of family formation? A couple analysis of the Netherlands
Volume 29 - Article 34

» Albania: Trends and patterns, proximate determinants and policies of fertility change
Volume 19 - Article 11

» Similarities and differences between two cohorts of young adults in Italy: Results of a CATI survey on transition to adulthood
Volume 15 - Article 5

» Youth poverty and transition to adulthood in Europe
Volume 15 - Article 2

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Gender differences and similarities in the educational gradient in fertility: The role of earnings potential and gender composition in study disciplines
Volume 39 - Article 13    | Keywords: fertility, gender

» Contraceptive use and lengthening birth intervals in rural and urban Eastern Africa
Volume 38 - Article 64    | Keywords: fertility, fertility intentions

» Partners’ empowerment and fertility in ten European countries
Volume 38 - Article 49    | Keywords: fertility, gender

» Who becomes a grandparent – and when? Educational differences in the chances and timing of grandparenthood
Volume 37 - Article 29    | Keywords: fertility, gender

» Childlessness and fertility by couples' educational gender (in)equality in Austria, Bulgaria, and France
Volume 37 - Article 12    | Keywords: fertility, gender