Employment trajectories, union histories and childlessness in France and Italy

Didier Breton, Université de Strasbourg and Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Cécile Flammant, Université de Strasbourg
Maria-Letizia Tanturri, Università di Padova

Childlessness is now increasing in almost all European countries for birth cohorts born since 1945 to 1965. Italy and France represents two interesting cases to study the phenomenon: the first is characterized by a rapid increase in the prevalence of childlessness and by one of the highest level among women born in 1965 (24%), while the latter is traditionally characterized by low and almost stable level of infertility (around 10%). Childlessness is rarely the result of an early and ultimate decision, but rather the outcome of a continuous conditioned process throughout life influenced by many factors, including past experiences, different events, the context. In this paper we propose to supplement the “static” approach of the study of determinants with a life-course one. The primary focus is to shed a new light on the trajectories leading women and men who remain childless in Italy and in France. French data from Gender and Generation Survey’s first and second waves (2005 and 2008) and Italian data from Family and Social Actors survey (2003 and 2009) will be used. Men and women aged 40 to 70 were selected and their working career (by distinguishing full-time employment periods, part-time employment periods and unemployment periods) and their marital history (by distinguishing periods during which individuals are in a couple and those during which they are without partner) have been reconstructed. The population is divided into two groups: parents and childless individuals. In each group we perform a sequence analysis using Optimal Matching tools. These two typologies will be compared in order to highlight features of paths leading to childlessness. Then, we will use variables which influence family size to consider to what extent they shape the likelihood of having a certain type of path. First results on a previous similar study on France are encouraging.

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Presented in Session 101: Childlessness, fertility and employment