Book Chapter

Young mothers and long intervals between births

Bernardi, L., Di Giulio, P.
In: Italian Statistical Society (Ed.): XLIII annual meeting of the Italian Statistical Society
Turin (2006)


Most empirical work on European fertility focuses on low fertility and the determinants of fertility decline after the 1960s. The variability of reproductive life courses is studied mainly to the extent to which it highlights the factors influencing completed fertility. However, there is evidence of considerable inter-temporal interdependency of events within the individual life course. Rather than examining each childbearing choice separately, we use a different perspective and we analyze the probability of experiencing a certain reproductive career as a whole. The aim is to identify reproductive “patterns” in the Italian regions. We use the information on individual reproductive, educational employment histories, and kinship relationships provided by the Italian Family and Social Subjects Surveys 1998, national surveys of households, representative at the regional level. We select the women aged 45-54 , who had exactly two or three children in their lifetime. By means of a cluster analysis on the age at births we classify women with completed fertility according to the temporal sequence with which they bore their children and we identify six reproductive patterns, ordered by the mean age at first birth. Among them remarkable is a cluster characterized by a long interval between the first and the second birth. Subsequently, the multinomial regression analysis shows that kin support negatively affects the probability of belonging to the clusters characterized by either a later first birth or a long interval between first and second birth for women of parity 2. Women who had a discontinuous working life, who had a child born outside the first marriage (women in informal and/or posterior unions) are likely to belong to the long interval clusters, while, despite controlling for other socio-economic characteristics, women in southern Italy have shorter intervals between births.
Keywords: Italy, birth intervals
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