Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 77–97 | Cite as

I would if I could: precarious employment and childbearing intentions in Italy

  • Francesca Modena
  • Fabio SabatiniEmail author


This paper carries out an investigation into the socio-economic determinants of childbearing decisions made by couples in Italy. The analysis accounts for the characteristics of both possible parents. Our results do not support established theoretical predictions according to which the increase in the opportunity cost of motherhood connected to higher female labour participation is responsible for the fall in fertility. On the contrary, the instability of women’s work status (i.e. having occasional, precarious, and low-paid positions) is revealed as a significant dissuasive factor in the decision to have children. Couples in which there is an unemployed woman are less likely to plan childbearing as well. Other relevant explanatory variables are women’s age, men’s work status and education, women’s citizenship, marital status and perceived economic well-being.


Fertility Family planning Parenthood Childbearing Participation Job instability Precarious employment Italy 

JEL Classification

C25 J13 



We wish to thank Christopher Gilbert, Alessandra Gualtieri and two anonymous referees for their valuable suggestions. Francesca Modena gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Fondazione Caritro. Needless to say, usual disclaimers apply.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of TrentoTrento (TN)Italy
  2. 2.European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse)Trento (TN)Italy

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