Couples’ First Child Intentions and Disagreement: An Analysis of the Italian Case

  • Alessandro Rosina
  • Maria Rita Testa


The aim of this article is to examine the determinants of couples’ childbearing intentions, by explicitly taking into account the agreement or disagreement of the two members of the couple. The relevance of the partner’s reproductive intentions has been well recognised in the literature, but few studies have provided in-depth analyses of the fertility plans of both partners. In our study, we used the household-level data from a survey on “Family and Social Subjects”, carried out by the Italian National Statistical Office in 2003, which provides characteristics on both partners. We adopted a couple’s perspective which allows us to give a unitary picture of the concordant or discordant nature of partners’ first child intentions. We found that a lack of agreement in the reproductive decision-making process is likely to occur in the Italian couples where the role of the woman is less traditional. In particular, cohabitant, highly educated and working women are more likely to be in disagreement with their partners in the decisions concerning having a first child. Being religious may be also a source of discordance in the couples’ reproductive plans. Our findings support the utility of taking a couple-based approach in studies on fertility intentions.


Fertility intentions Couple’s reproductive decisions Partners’ disagreement in first childbearing Fertility decision-making process 

La concordance des intentions d’avoir un premier enfant dans le couple: Une analyse du cas italien


Le but de cet article est d’examiner les déterminants des intentions de fécondité, en prenant en compte de façon explicite la concordance ou la discordance au sein des couples. La pertinence des intentions de fécondité du partenaire est bien établie dans la littérature, mais à ce jour peu d’analyses approfondies des intentions des deux partenaires ont été réalisées. Nous avons exploité les données des ménages dans l’enquête Family and Social Subjects (famille et sujets sociaux) menée par l’Institut national de la statistique en Italie en 2003, qui renseigne les caractéristiques des deux partenaires. La perspective adoptée est celle du couple, ce qui a permis de fournir une vision unifiée des intentions concordantes ou discordantes au sein du couple. Il apparaît qu’un désaccord au sein des couples en Italie est à même de se produire lorsque le rôle de la femme est moins traditionnel. En particulier, les femmes cohabitantes, très instruites et actives sont celles qui ont la probabilité la plus forte d’être en désaccord avec leur partenaire concernant les décisions d’avoir un premier enfant. La religiosité peut également être associée à des désaccords en matière d’intentions de fécondité. Nos résultats mettent en lumière tout l’intérêt de la prise en compte des deux membres du couple dans les études des intentions de fécondité.


Intentions de fécondité Décisions des couples en matière de procréation Désaccords entre partenaires sur l’intention d’avoir un premier enfant Prise de décision en matière de fécondité 



Paper prepared within the project ‘Fertility Intentions and outcomes: The Role of Policies to Close the Gap’, was funded by the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (Contract No. VS/2006/0685).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Catholic UniversityMilanItaly
  2. 2.Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social DynamicsMilanItaly
  3. 3.Vienna Institute of DemographyViennaAustria

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