Economic Uncertainty and Fertility Intentions in Couples: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment

Daniele Vignoli, University of Florence
Lars Dommermuth, Statistics Norway
Chiara Rapallini, Università di Firenze
Trude Lappegard, University of Oslo
Alessandra Minello, University of Florence
Camilla Matera, University of Florence
Giacomo Bazzani, University of Florence

This paper posits that in the era of uncertainty people build their “narratives of the future” to act in spite of uncertainty, irrespective of structural constraints and their subjective perception. To advance the role of narratives as a crucial lens to understand the impact of economic uncertainty on fertility intentions in couples, we conducted controlled laboratory experimentation in Italy and Norway (N=800 couples, 1,600 individuals). Couples are randomly assigned to one specific narrative of the future (1/3 positive, 1/3 negative, 1/3 control group), and each respondent is then asked to answer if he/she intends to have a child in the next three years. Preliminary results from Italy (N= 408) highlight a clear negative causal impact of the perception of economic uncertainty on fertility intentions.

Presented in Session 6: Fertility at times of crisis: from economic recession to climate change