Too Much Family Revisited

Maya Judd, Brown University
Alessandra Gribaldo, Brown University
David I. Kertzer, Brown University

Eight years ago Livi-Bacci (2001) proposed a novel theory to explain very low fertility in Italy and potentially other societies sharing common characteristics. Turning the prevailing Second Demographic Transition on its head, he argued that very low fertility levels in Southern Europe, and Italy in particular, might be explained not by a drive toward individual self-realization, but on the contrary by “too much family”. Yet despite all the attention this theory has received, to date few empirical studies investigate the ways that strong kin ties might result in reduced childbearing. In this paper, we use data from 349 interviews conducted in 2005-2006 in four Italian cities to show how an understanding of regional variation in family formation and kinship relations sheds much needed light on the causal mechanisms that link strong family to low fertility.

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Presented in Poster Session 1