Effects of the economic crisis on fertility: a comparison between South Korea and Italy

Doo-Sub Kim, Hanyang University
Alessandra De Rose, Università di Roma "La Sapienza"
Giuseppe Gabrielli, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Anna Paterno, Università degli Studi di Bari

Over the past decades, economic downturns have affected fertility dynamics. Many scholars have shown that fertility levels have decreased in response to the crises in several countries, both in Asian societies and in European ones. The main purpose of this study is to perform a comparative analysis between South Korea and Italy on the effects of the economic crises, started respectively in 1997 and 2007, on the levels and patterns of fertility. The interest in comparing these two countries is that they are both characterized by a “tight family system” but very low fertility levels. The data-sets used come from The 2006 Korean National Fertility, Family Health and Welfare Survey and from The 2012 Italian Multipurpose Survey on Aspects of Everyday Life. Our sample focuses on women aged 20-49 currently married at the time of the survey. We carried out analyses to summarize the distinctive patterns in the socioeconomic characteristics of the observed groups of women in Italy and South Korea. We also applied regression analyses to assess the changing effect of socioeconomic status on fertility. Our findings confirm that the economic crisis affected the causal mechanisms of fertility significantly both in South Korea and in Italy. Changes in reproductive behavior have been most evident among women characterized by a high level of fertility and among those who received junior high school education or lower. As the level of wife’s education rises, the number of children ever born after the crisis tends to increase. This pattern is found to be consistent when the husband’s occupation was introduced into the analysis.

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Presented in Session 106: The great recession and fertility