Social Context, Economic Uncertainty and the Transition to Parenthood. A Comparative Analysis of Germany, Italy and the UK.

Raffaele Guetto , University of Florence
Daniele Vignoli, University of Florence
Valentina Tocchioni, Università di Firenze

Economic uncertainty is now viewed as a primary force behind low fertility. In this paper, we argue that to grasp empirically under which conditions economic uncertainty influences fertility decisions, individual experiences of unemployment and employment instability have to be considered in the frame of socially constructed perceptions about the necessary pre-conditions to start a family. Following Easterlin’s hypothesis on the interplay between aspirations and resources, such perceptions are influenced by a comparison individuals make between previous generation’s and their own labor market experiences. We discuss institutional and cultural reasons in support of our hypothesis that the comparison with previous, more protected generations might reinforce the postponement of the transition to parenthood among young labor market entrants especially in Italy, compared to Germany and, especially, the UK. The potential role of parental influences will be tested through a comparative analysis of longitudinal micro-data and the application of discrete-time event history techniques.

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 Presented in Session 125. Labour Market Conditions and Fertility