Structural and Cultural Determinants of Fertility and Female Labour Market Participation in Italy and Europe

Guetto, Raffaele (2012) Structural and Cultural Determinants of Fertility and Female Labour Market Participation in Italy and Europe. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


The thesis contributes to the explanation of two well-documented phenomena: the strong decline in fertility rates and the parallel increase in female labour market participation which occurred in the last decades in most OECD countries. The argument is studied by means of a European comparison and an in-depth analysis of the Italian case. An innovative aspect of the work is the combination of cultural and structural explanations. In fact, the main argument of the thesis is that cross-national differences and the puzzling Italian and Southern European pattern of low fertility and low female labour market participation should be understood as stemming from the interplay between different factors, related to a structural – Welfare Regimes and the Economic Theory of the Family – and a cultural theoretical framework – the Second Demographic Transition and the distinction between “strong” and “weak” family systems. In detail, the thesis shows empirically how both women’s opportunity-costs and households’ economic resources as well as family values and preferences are useful to understand fertility and female labour market participation behaviours. ILFI (Indagine Longitudinale sulle Famiglie Italiane, 1997-2005) data have been used to demonstrate how individual- and household-level mechanisms, connected with social stratification, underlying the transition to parenthood and female labour market participation around childbirths are coherent with the Italian familialistic institutional setting. Italy is an interesting case not least because of its strong regional heterogeneity, which concerns also the family formation process. Adopting an epidemiological approach, ILFI and IARD data on the condition of youth (2004) are exploited to show how the regional heterogeneity in family behaviours within Italy, such as the lower age at parenthood and the higher fertility rates in Southern regions in the selected cohorts, may be largely explained by differences in family values. This first hint suggesting the role of culture on demographic behaviours is developed further in a comparative setting using EVS (European Values Study, 1990-2008) data. The latter allowed to assess directly the importance of values and attitudes for women’s labour market participation and fertility decisions in 15 European countries. Finally, the comparison between the different paths followed by Italy and the Netherlands in the last thirty years is discussed as an example of how changes in the institutional settings in order to foster work-family reconciliation are deeply embedded within wider processes of social change. Based on the developed theoretical framework and the results of the mentioned empirical analyses, the author attempts to integrate different streams of the literature and presents an argumentation about the complex interplay between interests, ideas and institutions underlying fertility and female labour market participation trends and patterns.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Sociology and Social Research (within the School in Social Sciences, till the a.y. 2010-11)
PhD Cycle:XXIV
Subjects:Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS-S/04 DEMOGRAFIA
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/07 SOCIOLOGIA GENERALE
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/09 SOCIOLOGIA DEI PROCESSI ECONOMICI E DEL LAVORO
Uncontrolled Keywords:Fertility, Female Labour Market Participation, Work-Family Reconciliation, Structure and Culture, Welfare Regimes, Values
Repository Staff approval on:16 Jan 2013 16:21

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