Working Papers del DiSIA
Life-course trajectories of childless women: Country-specific or universal?
Valentina Tocchioni, Anna Rybińska, Monika Mynarska, Anna Matysiak, Daniele Vignoli
While existing research has documented complexities in the life-courses of childless women, few studies to date have systematically examined the life-course pathways of the childless from a comparative, cross-country perspective. In this paper, we analyse biographies of childless women in four countries – Germany, Italy, Poland, and the United States – in order to investigate whether pathways into childlessness are country-specific or commonly shared across institutional, cultural, and geographical settings. Partnership, education, and employment histories are examined using sequence analysis with dynamic Hamming distance to reveal distinct clusters of life-course trajectories in each country. The results highlight a marked variation in the life-courses of childless women both within and between the analysed countries. Although a few typical clusters can be identified in all of the examined settings, the size of the clusters, as well as the socio-demographic characteristics of women within them, differ across countries.
Risk aversion and fertility. Evidence from a lottery question in Italy
Daniela Bellani, Bruno Arpino
This article aims at contributing to the literature on fertility decision making process. The authors analyze an overlooked but potentially crucial factor, the preference for risk. A typology of fertility decision making process based on risk tolerance and attractiveness of parenthood is proposed. Empirically, the authors rely on a lottery question included in Italian longitudinal representative data. Results indicate that the most risk averse individuals have the highest probability to have a(n additional) child. This is consistent with the Hedger ideal type that considers children as an insurance. The most risk tolerant individuals, instead, in line with the Individualist type, seem to perceive fertility as incompatible with alternative risky and rewarding behaviors. This conflict results particularly strong for low-income individuals. Our findings point to the importance of considering risk tolerance in fertility research to gain a more complete understanding of heterogeneity in fertility behaviors.
Aggregate Output Measurements: a Common Trend Approach
Martín Almuzara, Gabriele Fiorentini, Enrique Sentana
We analyze a model for N different measurements of a persistent latent time series when measurement errors are mean-reverting, which implies a common trend among measure-ments. We study the consequences of overdifferencing, finding potentially large biases in maximum likelihood estimators of the dynamics parameters and reductions in the preci-sion of smoothed estimates of the latent variable, especially for multiperiod objects such as quinquennial growth rates. We also develop an R2 measure of common trend observability that determines the severity of misspecification. Finally, we apply our framework to US quarterly data on GDP and GDI, obtaining an improved aggregate output measure.
Instability of Employment Careers and Union Dissolution. A Complex Micro-level Relation
Elena Bastianelli, Daniele Vignoli
The present study contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the relation between employment instability and union dissolution. To address the oversights of previous research, we disentangle the effect of employment instability on union dissolution by: (i) considering not only the effect of joblessness, but also the type of employment contract; (ii) evaluating both status and the accumulation of instability over the life course; and (iii) detecting variation across gender and generations. We focus on Italy, applying event-history techniques to the 2009 and 2016 Italian Multipurpose Survey on Family and Social Subjects, observing cohorts from 1950 to 1980. Our results suggest that the effect of employment instability on union dissolution is gender-specific: joblessness and limited-time employment are facilitators for men’s dissolution, while joblessness is an inhibitor for women’s dissolution. Nonetheless, these differences weaken across recent cohorts as gender equality gains relevance in the labor market. We also highlight the crucial role of the persistence of instability in unpacking the association between employment instability and union dissolution.
Economic Uncertainty and Fertility Intentions: The Causal Effect of Narratives of the Future
Daniele Vignoli, Alessandra Minello, Giacomo Bazzani, Camilla Matera, Chiara Rapallini
In recent years, fertility rates have declined in most middle-high income countries, and explanations have tended to focus on the rise of economic uncertainty. We contribute to this debate by arguing that, under uncertain conditions, narratives of the future—i.e. socially conveyed imagined futures—play a potent role in directing individuals’ decision-making about childbearing. To assess this role, we conducted—for the first time in fertility intention research—a controlled laboratory experiment in two contrasting settings: Florence (Italy, N = 814) and Oslo (Norway, N = 876). Individuals were randomly exposed to a specific positive or negative future economic scenario (treatments) and compared with individuals who were not exposed to any scenario (control group). Then, each respondent was asked whether he/she intended to have a child in the next three years. Results showed a clear causal impact of narratives of the future on fertility intentions. Moreover, when the actual condition at the macro (country context) or micro (labor-market status and characteristics) level was better-off, negative narratives of the future were most crucial; conversely, when the actual conditions were less favorable, positive narratives of the future proved especially important. We conclude that, in the era of uncertainty, individuals respond to more than their actual economic situation and constraints: narratives of the future create a distance experience from the daily routine that plays a potent role by inhibiting or facilitating fertility decision-making.
Sexual debut and dating of university students in low fertility societies: Italy and Japan
Ryohei Mogi, Daniele Vignoli
The sexual debut and dating behaviour of the youth are vital to the process of personal and social transition from adolescence to adulthood and can have both direct and indirect influences on later union formation processes. Nonetheless, little attention has been paid to the sexual and dating behaviour of young people in Southern Europe and East Asia—both of which are categorized as societies with strong family ties and lowest-low fertility. The present study steps back to the initial events of the transition to adulthood and examines the sexual and dating behaviours of university students in Italy and Japan. Our results suggest that the world record-low fertility levels in Italy and Japan originate from very different processes in the transition to adult sexuality. In Japan, the sexual and affective behaviour of students in life’s early stages seems to be an important reason in explaining low fertility. In Italy, however, the reasons behind low fertility do not seem to stem from a problematic path of transition to adult sexuality and finding a partner, at least among higher educated individuals. We conclude that a focus on sexual and dating histories can provide an important perspective on the foundations of low fertility societies.
Multivariate Hermite polynomials and information matrix tests
Dante Amengual, Gabriele Fiorentini, Enrique Sentana
We show that the information matrix test for a multivariate normal random vector coincides with the sum of the two moment tests that look at the means of all the different third- and fourth-order multivariate Hermite polynomials, respectively. We also explain how to simulate its exact, parameter-free, finite sample distribution to any desired degree of accuracy for any dimension of the random vector and sample size. Specifically, we exploit the numerical invariance of the test statistic to affine transformations of the observed variables to simulate draws extremely quickly.
An improved pay-as-you-go pension system, in comparison with a notional defined contribution system: demographic, economic and policy characteristics
Gustavo De Santis
NDC (notional defined contribution) pension systems are commonly believed to strike the best balance between the needs and constraints of modern societies (pushing towards PAYG, pay-as-you-go) and the rigour of funding, together with its non-distortionary effects on the labour market. In this paper, I propose an original solution to the pension problem, which ends up by being similar, but preferable, to NDC: IPAYG, or improved PAYG pension system. Its guiding principle is that “everything is relative”, and this is applied consistently to both the economic and the demographic part of the problem. Depending on parametric (policy) choices, an infinite set of IPAYG arrangements is possible. All of them are viable, independently of the economic or demographic evolution, although not all of them are equally good. Optimizations issues, however, or how to select the best version of IPAYG, are not discussed in this paper.
Frailty in late years: the legacy of coexistence and persistence of disadvantages in working-age adulthood
Francesca Zanasi, Gustavo De Santis, Elena Pirani
Frailty increases with age, but it also depends on the disadvantages suffered in youth and working-age adulthood. Accumulating disadvantages during the life course, in terms of persistence and coexistence, reinforces their effects on frailty. However, their impact and the correct way to measure it are unclear.
We study how the disadvantages suffered in working-age adulthood (25 to 59 years) in four domains (unemployment, financial hardship, stress, and bad health) affect frailty – or a complex state of objective and subjective vulnerability – in late adulthood (60 to 79 years).We account for both the persistence over time of these disadvantages and their coexistence, i.e. the duration of periods when they were simultaneously experienced. With data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (2004-2017), we estimate the frailty score for several age groups (in years: 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79) using linear regression models and including, besides controls, several measures of life-course disadvantage.
While frailty increases with age, there is evidence of an accumulation of risks: the longer the periods of adult life affected by bad health, unemployment, financial hardship or stress, the frailer individuals are in their late years. Longer periods of coexisting disadvantages in adulthood translate into additional frailty in late life, especially past 70 years.
Frailty inequalities persist in later life: they are connected to the disadvantages experienced in adulthood in several life domains, both separately and, even more, cumulatively. This calls for early action against disadvantages, if “active ageing” is to be pursued.
Retirement? Other ways out of the labour market are far more worrying for health. Results from a matching approach study
Elena Pirani, Gustavo De Santis, Francesca Zanasi
Despite a growing body of research, the effects of retirement on health are not clear. The study explores the role played by the path out of the labour market (formal retirement vs. unemployment or family reasons), accounting for individual heterogeneity.
Propensity score matching approach is employed on longitudinal data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (2004-2015).
While health does not change significantly for those who formally retire, it worsens considerably for those who leave the labour market for other reasons. Moreover, health outcomes turn out to be highly heterogeneous, depending on individual socio-economic and job-related characteristics.
Leaving the labour market in one’s mature years is a complex transition. Future research should focus on understanding and combating the causes of premature exit from the labour market, a relevant concern both in economic terms and on health grounds, in the light of our results.
Published as Journal of Aging and Health, 2021; link, published.
Diverse pathways in young Italians’ entrance into sexual life: The association with gender and birth cohort
Valentina Tocchioni, Marcantonio Caltabiano, Silvia Meggiolaro
BACKGROUND: Sexual development is a complex process, the study of which should consider not only first sexual intercourse, but multiple behavioural trajectories in a comprehensive perspective. Moreover, first romantic relationships and sexual experimentation during adolescence form the building blocks for subsequent more mature relationships and sexual behaviours later in life.
OBJECTIVE: This study focuses on young Italians’ first romantic and sexual experiences, with a twofold aim. We seek to both describe the trajectories characterizing the first stages of youth’s affective and sexual development and to study the differences among them by gender and birth cohort.
METHODS: Applying sequence analysis and subsequent cluster analysis to a sample taken from two surveys conducted in 2000-2001 and 2017 on Italian university students, we identify young people’s affective and sexual development trajectories. This is followed by a multinomial logistic regression analysis to discern the effect of gender and birth cohort on the probability of belonging to a given pathway.
RESULTS: We identify six distinct sexual ideal-types among young men and women, with gender differences that characterize the trajectories of affective and sexual development of most of university students. That said, our results also suggest that differences between the two genders have narrowed over time.
CONTRIBUTION: The findings confirm the importance of considering not only first sexual intercourse and the ‘typical’ trajectory of affective and sexual development, but also accounting for diverse trajectories so as to accurately capture the complexity of youths’ early romantic and sexual lives.
Media Coverage of the Economy and Fertility
Raffaele Guetto, Maria Francesca Morabito, Daniele Vignoli, Matthias Vollbracht
In this paper, we argue that economic narratives conveyed by the media are crucial for understanding contemporary fertility dynamics net of objective economic constraints. We test such a hypothesis for Italy by combining individual-level data from the 2009 and 2016 releases of the nationally-representative Family and Social Subjects Surveys with Media Tenor data on the media coverage of the economy derived from the evening newscast of Italian TV channel one. Our findings reveal that both the incidence and tone of news on the state of the economy influence fertility behavior. An increase in the number of negative economic news items inhibits fertility, whereas an increase in positive news items facilitates fertility. The share of economic coverage out of all news has a negative association with fertility, yet this weakens as the average tone of the news improves. Interestingly, when positive news items outnumber negative ones, an increase in the incidence of economic news encourages fertility. These effects are substantially relevant, and statistically significant, net of contextual and individuals’ socioeconomic characteristics.
Work histories and provision of grandparental childcare among Italian older women
Francesca Zanasi, Bruno Arpino, Elena Pirani, Valeria Bordone
While the literature has widely shown that the provision of childcare by grandparents is often crucial for young mothers’ participation in the labour market, this work investigates the link between grandmothers’ participation in the labour market during adult life (between ages 18-49) and their provision of grandparental childcare later in life. Two contrasting theoretical arguments are plausible in this respect. On the one hand, lifelong homemakers could be more family-oriented and more likely to provide grandchild care in later life. On the other hand, ever-employed grandmothers could be more likely to have employed daughters, and provide grandchild care to support their working careers.
With data from the Multipurpose surveys on Families and Social Subjects (2003, 2009, 2016), we estimate logistic regression models, considering various specifications of grandparental childcare, and measuring labour market attachment in three different ways (having ever worked, length of working career, employment interruptions for family reasons). Results show a positive association between grandmothers’ labor market attachment and grandparental childcare provision. A strong dualism emerges between grandmothers who ever worked and those who never did, with the former more likely to provide grandparental childcare, especially when parents are at work. Grandmothers who worked only a few years are more similar, in terms of grandchild care provision, to those who worked throughout their life, than to lifelong homemakers. Comparing Italian macro-areas strengthens our conclusions: differences between ever- and never-employed grandmothers are present in whole the country, but this holds especially in Northern regions, where the higher female participation to the labour market amplifies the need for grandparental childcare. Overall, we showed that intergenerational family solidarity is activated throughout the country, but it is evident that in a context of growing female labour force participation, couples cannot continue to count only on grandmothers to juggle family and work.
Adding up risks: Sexual debut and substance use among Italian university students
Fausta Ongaro, Valentina Tocchioni
BACKGROUND: The literature has analysed the effect of problem behaviours on the timing of first sexual intercourse, showing a positive association between them, but scant information is available about the effect on the other circumstances of sexual debut, such as the use of protection and having a casual partner, with few studies on Southern European countries.
OBJECTIVE: This study addresses whether and how the initiation and the timing of some risky behaviours (problem drinking and marijuana, ecstasy and other drug use) are associated with the timing of sexual debut, the use of protection and the type of first sexual partner.
METHODS: Event history analyses for the transition to first sexual intercourse – also in their competing risk form – are performed on data referring to Italian university students aged 18-26, collected in 2000-2001 and 2017.
RESULTS: The risk of having first sexual intercourse steadily increases as the number of first-time risky behaviours increases. The negative effect of the accumulation of risky behaviours seems to be accentuated at very early ages; for those having their first intercourse with a casual partner; for young women having their first intercourse without any form of protection; and for young men having their first intercourse irrespective of the use of protection.
CONTRIBUTION: Our results show that even in a country such as Italy, where family and sexual norms are relatively traditional, young people confident with alcohol, marijuana and ecstasy use are more likely to experience risky sexual intercourse. This provides evidence for the political agenda on educating safe sex.
Childbearing Across Partnerships in Italy: Prevalence, Demographic Correlates, Social Gradient
Elena Pirani, Daniele Vignoli
Studies of childbearing across partnerships – or having children with more than one partner – have generally focused on countries with relatively high separation rates. We complement analyses for Italy using nationally-representative retrospective data and event-history techniques, and we offer three key findings. First, we detected a non-negligible share of childbearing across partnerships, although at substantially lower levels relative to other wealthy countries (5%). Second, multivariable analyses revealed an impressive similarity as for the demographic correlates found elsewhere. Finally, we showed that childbearing across partnerships was initiated by the ‘social vanguard’ of new family behaviours, but then diffused among the least well-off. Overall, this study adds to the growing literature on childbearing across partnerships by showing the phenomenon to be also demographically and sociologically relevant in countries with a limited diffusion of union dissolutions and strong family ties.
Deviations From Standard Family Histories and Subjective Wellbeing at Older Ages
Bruno Arpino, Jordi Gumà, Albert Julià
Life course research emphasizes that health and wellbeing at older ages are influenced by experiences occurred in the previous stages of life. Several studies have focused on fertility and partnership histories and health at older ages, but fewer have examined subjective wellbeing (SWB), especially using a holistic approach. Another strand of the literature demonstrated that non-standard family behaviors negatively influence SWB. We contribute to these strands of the literature by examining the association between non-standardness of family histories and SWB at older ages. We argue that individuals who experienced non-standard trajectories have been exposed to social sanctions throughout their life course which could exert negative long-term influence on their SWB.
We apply sequence analysis and optimal matching on retrospective data from the seventh wave of the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to calculate the degree of non-standardness of family histories between age 15 and 49. Subseuently, we estimate linear regression models to assess the association between non-standardness of family histories and older people's SWB. Our results show a negative association between non-standardness of family histories and SWB, which is stronger for lower educated individuals and in Southern European countries.
Split-plot designs and multi-response process optimization: a comparison between two approaches
Rossella Berni, Lorenzo Piattoli, Christine Michaela Anderson-Cook, Lu Lu
Nowadays split-plot designs play a crucial role in the technological field, both for their flexibility when applying a robust design approach and in relation to the modelling step, by considering Mixed Response Surface models and/or the class of Generalized Linear Mixed Models-GLMMs. In this paper, a split-plot design is studied in a process optimization scenario involving several response variables, e.g., a multi-response situation, in which a comparison between two optimization methods is performed. More precisely, by considering a real case study related to the improvement of a measurement process of a Numerical-Control machine (N/C machine) to measure dental implants, the optimization is carried out with the Pareto front approach and then compared with other analytical methods also used to optimize. The final discussion considers the advantages and disadvantages (of application) for both methods.
Tests for random coefficient variation in vector autoregressive models
Dante Amengual, Gabriele Fiorentini, Enrique Sentana
We propose the information matrix test to assess the constancy of mean and variance parameters in vector autoregressions. We additively decompose it into several orthogonal components: conditional heteroskedasticity and asymmetry of the innovations, and their unconditional skewness and kurtosis. Our Monte Carlo simulations explore both its finite size properties and its power against i.i.d. coefficients, persistent but stationary ones, and regime switching. Our procedures detect variation in the autoregressive coefficients and residual covariance matrix of a Var for the US GDP growth rate and the statistical discrepancy, but they fail to detect any covariation between those two sets of coefficients.
I genitori single in Italia e gli effetti della pandemia di Covid-19 sul loro benessere e sulle relazioni familiari
Elena Pirani, Raffaele Guetto
Gli ultimi decenni hanno visto profondi cambiamenti nei tempi e nei modi di fare famiglia in Italia, oltre che un aumento delle dissoluzioni di unioni. Una conseguenza importante di questi cambiamenti è il forte aumento dei bambini che subiscono lo scioglimento dell'unione dei genitori e vengono cresciuti in una famiglia non intatta, ovvero una famiglia in cui la madre o il padre non sono presenti in casa. Questi aspetti sono rilevanti da un punto di vista demografico e sociologico soprattutto perché ad essi si possono associare cambiamenti nei livelli di benessere di individui e famiglie.
In questo lavoro descriviamo l'evoluzione recente delle famiglie italiane e le loro caratteristiche, prestando particolare attenzione ai “genitori single”. Inoltre, presentiamo i primi risultati di un'indagine ad hoc svolta nell’aprile 2021 che aveva come obiettivo la conoscenza delle conseguenze della pandemia sul benessere e sulle condizioni di vita dei genitori single in Italia.
I risultati mostrano che la pandemia ha esacerbato alcuni dei fattori di preoccupazione dei genitori single italiani, determinando un peggioramento del loro benessere, soprattutto psicoemotivo. Tuttavia, gli intervistati rimangono ottimisti verso il futuro, rafforzando l’idea che questo peggioramento rappresenti più una battuta d’arresto indotta dalla pandemia che una inversione strutturale e definitiva. Per il futuro, si segnala la necessità di politiche più incisive e mirate per questo tipo di famiglie, maggiormente esposte, date le loro caratteristiche specifiche, a rischi di deprivazione economica ed esclusione sociale.
Ultimo aggiornamento 28 febbraio 2022.