Breschi, Marco and Formasin, Alessio and Manfredini, Matteo and Pozzi, Lucia and Rettaroli, Rosella and Scalone, Francesco (2014) Social and economic determinants of reproductive behavior before the fertility decline: the case of six italian communities during the nineteenth century. European Journal of Population, Vol. 30 (3), p. 291-315. ISSN 0168-6577. eISSN 1572-9885. Article.
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In recent decades, main demographic historical research assessed the importance of bio-demographic components in human reproduction, before the diffusion of birth control and contraceptive techniques. According to this dominant view, before fertility decline, marital fertility was mainly regulated by biological and physiological factors and socio-economic factors played only a limited and indirect role. In order to demonstrate the importance of non-biological components, the present study focuses on six pre-transitional communities situated in different geographic areas of Italy. The work aims to demonstrate how fertility levels could significantly be affected by social and economic factors even in natural fertility populations, before the diffusion of contraceptives. Micro-level data are collected from several historical sources, and discrete-time event history models are applied to female reproductive careers in order to estimate effects of socio-economic status, household structure, and price fluctuations on marital fertility, controlling for several bio-demographic factors. Despite clear differences in geographic localization and environment, marital reproductive behavior appeared to be significantly and constantly affected by socio-economic status, household composition, and price levels in all the investigated communities.
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