Childless or Childfree? A Qualitative Insight into Childlessness in Italy

Maria Letizia Tanturri, University of Florence

Childlessness is an important component of fertility decline in many European countries, including Italy where it is becoming an emerging issue. This paper is aimed at getting an insight into voluntary childlessness in Italy, using qualitative information from 9 focus groups, where 59 childless women--currently married and with no physical infertility impediments--have been invited to participate. We concentrate on those issues that have been usually neglected by quantitative analysis, such as identity, values, attitudes and motherhood representation. In particular, we disentangle among different motivations and paths leading to childlessness. The decision-making process concerning reproductive choices have been pointed out. The perception of a stigma associated to the refuse of motherhood and the possible reactions to it have been assessed. Moreover, an exploration of the perceived costs, benefits and fears related to childbearing has been tempted. A final dimension concerns possible unmet need of policies.

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Presented in Session 24: Attitudes and Expectations about Childbearing and Childrearing