Despite the many differences that exist between Italy, Bulgaria, and Germany, the three countries are among those with the lowest fertility rates in Europe. However, they differ in the level of public support for families and the role of informal supportive networks in daily life. Italy and Bulgaria, on the one hand, share very low levels of public support. In both countries, consequently, informal supportive networks based on family relationships and kinship have a strong tradition and a high relevance for getting things done. In Germany, however, support by family policy is much stronger and the importance of such supportive networks is weaker. The paper addresses the question whether these different constellations of public and informal social support have an impact on reproductive decision-making. In particular, it concentrates on the impact of supportive networks on intentions to have a second child. Analyses based on data from the “Generations and Gender Programme”, a comparative survey that was conducted recently in all three countries, provide mixed results. While there is a significant influence of access to informal support on the intention to have a second child in Bulgaria and no significant effect in West Germany, findings for Italy obviously contradict theoretical propositions and suggest that future analysis takes more comprehensive account of the work strategy of the mothers in the context of the current Italian labour market characteristics.
This study investigates the importance of the effect of an individual's web of informal relationships with family and peers on the intention to have a second or third child. Drawing on sociological theories of social capital (help with childcare, emotional support) and social pressure, the study extends existing research by evaluating cross-national differences (between France, Germany, and Bulgaria) in the impact of personal network and institutional circumstances. It tests a non-linear relationship between social capital and fertility intentions. Social pressure and social capital are highly institutionally filtered, with the impact of personal network stronger where institutions are less family-supportive.
This paper follows previous research on the role of social capital and gender equity in fertility behavior. Our research question is to what extent social capital and gender equality in housework and childcare can explain fertility intentions and subsequent births in Russia. Russia is a country with prevalence of one-child families, whereas social norm is still two-children family. Since state support of families with children is weak and public childcare is underdeveloped, families bear most of child-related costs. The paper is based on two waves of Generations and Gender Survey (GGS), conducted in Russia in 2004 and 2007. Sample includes women of 18-44 and men with partners of the same age. We used binary logit models. Dependent variables include a) intentions to give birth within 3 years, b) births between two waves. Main explanatory variables include gender equity and social capital. The former varies from traditional to egalitarian partnerships. The latter is measured by five variables - 'parental family', 'attitudes toward intergenerational support', 'financial transfers', 'closeness to parents' and 'received childcare'. We control for sex, birth cohort, regional availability of public childcare, socio-economic status. The results show that social network for childcare does not influence either intended or actual fertility. Close relations with separately living parents increase only intentions to become parents. But access to financial transfers influence both intended and actual births of the first and second child. Besides, egalitarian division of housework and childcare significantly increases the probability of first and second births and probability of intentions to have a second child. The tentative conclusion is that gender equity concept is more relevant to explaining fertility behavior of Russian population than social capital.