Do Childcare Arrangements Make the Difference? A Multilevel Approach to the Intention of Having a Second Child in Italy

Francesca Fiori*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    Does more support in childcare increase the mother's desire to have a second child? An answer to this question was sought in Italy, a country characterised by very low fertility.

    The paper explores the existence of effects on individual decisions at different levels, in the hypotheses that fertility preferences are not only related to women's individual traits, but also affected by the interactions with the surrounding social network and by the opportunity/constraints of the context of residence. Data from the ISTAT Survey on Births completed in 2005 were used to study the impact of different childcare arrangements on expected fertility of women who had a child between 18 to 21 months prior to their interviews (N = 5145). A multilevel strategy of analysis was adopted to assess the existence of a contextual effect beyond the observed individual effects.

    Working women in the sample have the same fertility intentions as non-working women, but these expectations are conditioned by several factors. A higher paternal commitment in childbirth, childcare and household chores is positively associated to the intention of a second child; help from the informal family network shows a significant positive effect on women's childbearing intentions.

    Finally, and although the empirical analysis here performed does not provide clear evidence of autonomous contextual effects, it is argued that individual behaviours are connected to the context in which they belong and researchers' efforts should be directed towards its correct specification, transcending the standard geographical focus of social contextualisation. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)579-596
    Number of pages18
    JournalPopulation, Space and Place
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Italy
    • fertility intentions
    • childcare
    • paternal involvement
    • family network
    • multilevel


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