The reproductive behavior of the Romani population living in Italy

Maria Castiglioni, Università di Padova
Emiliana Baldoni, Università di Padova
Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, Università di Padova
Maria-Letizia Tanturri, Università di Padova

Studies of Romani reproductive behavior are very rare in Europe, and totally absent in Italy, where the Romani population has grown after the Balkan Wars and the entry of Romania in the EU. We use original individual data for estimating fertility during 1997-2011 of Romani population living in four cities in Italy. Data comes from data-bases built in 2010-12 by the Municipalities of Rome, Milan, Naples and Padua about Romani population living in the legal camps. The interest is twofold. We study a population of high fertility and early union formation within the Italian context of lowest-low fertility and latest-late leaving the parental home. Moreover, a wider knowledge of the reproductive behavior of the Romani people allows to think about possible health interventions for mothers and children. As only data on population is available, for estimating fertility we use the own-children method for Rome, and population by sex and age-groups for the other cities. General fertility of Romani declines in Rome, Milan and Naples (although levels of fertility and the pace of decline are not the same). Fertility of Romani living in Rome in 1997-2011declined from 5 children per woman to about 3.5, and the mean age at birth increased. Fertility at young ages is very high, even if far from the “natural” level, and it declines strongly after age 35. Wide differences are highlighted by place of birth. Differences among the cities should be better understood, considering socio-economic and housing conditions, level of integration, access to social and health services. Fertility decline at young ages and low fertility after 30 should be better understood. Some in-depth interviews to health and social workers do not suggest a widespread use of birth control nor induced abortion. Other intermediate variables should be considered (age at marriage and the frequency of sexual intercourses).

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Presented in Session 70: Reproductive health outcomes