A History of Italian Fertility During the Last Two Centuries
Massimo Livi Bacci


Profound changes have occurred in the demography and sociology of Italian fertility since Napoleonic times. Using the statistical system instituted in 1861 with national unification, Massimo Livi-Bacci provides a systematic and detailed analysis of fertility trends in Italy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He brings to light the main features of the secular decline: its rapid occurrence in the northern and central areas; the widening urban-rural gap; the shaping of social and economic differences; and the late, slow downward trend in the South.

Multivariate statistical analysis enables the author to measure the changing relationship between fertility and social or economic phenomena. Historical evidence illustrates the effect on fertility of mass emigration and Fascist policy as well as of social changes such as those in agrarian structure, mobility, and communications.

An altered attitude toward procreation is evident in some parts of Italy in the early nineteenth century. The decline becomes apparent in certain northern and central regions in the 1870s and 1880s and it appears at the aggregate national level in the 1890s.

First published in 1977.