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Fertility and Values in Italy and Spain: A Look at Regional Differences within the European Context

From: Population Review
Volume 52, Number 1, 2013



Using data from the Eurostat Database and European Value Surveys we assess if recent fertility trends in Europe are associated with a change in values. A special emphasis is given to Spain and Italy that, together with the other Southern European countries, are often seen as a homogeneous group sharing the same 'traditional' values and demographic behaviours -as opposed to Scandinavian countries which are seen as progressive. We show that Italy and Spain are not that similar in terms of values. We also show that similarities at the country level with respect to TFR hide considerable variation at the regional level. We argue that an analysis at the regional level, as carried out here, is crucial to better understand changes in fertility levels. Our analyses provide evidence that recent fertility trends are associated with value dynamics, namely that the highest increases in TFR happened in regions where both individualism with respect to relationships and individual autonomy grew at the same time that individualism with respect to children diminished. We also provide empirical evidence in support of McDonald's theory that both gender equity in market-oriented and family-oriented institutions is necessary for fertility to rise.

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