restricted access Births and Fertility in Interwar Italy: Trends, Images, Policies and Perception

Since the 1980s, the decline of fertility in Italy has encouraged a debate on measures that support fertility. This debate has promoted scholars' interest in studying pronatalist policies that the Italian fascist regime implemented during interwar time. This paper reviews literature on Italian fascist pronatalism. It is organised in four parts. First, we examine statistics on Italian fertility and population projections produced in the 1920s and 1930s. Second, we describe the ways in which the main Italian demographers who lived during those two decades interpreted fertility decline and the policies that encouraged fertility. We analyse how Italian fascism interpreted low fertility and the objectives it expected to achieve through the implementation of pronatalist policies. Third, we provide an account of the pronatalist policies which were carried out, as well as of the propaganda accompanying these policies. Finally, we look at the attitudes of Italian women who lived during fascist time towards family formation. We discuss how Italian women did not conform to the fascist model of prolific mothers.