2014 - n° 63
ABSTRACT We investigate the electoral effects of early exposure to Silvio Berlusconi’s commercial television network, Mediaset, exploiting its staggered expansion across Italian munic- ipalities during the 1980s. We find that municipalities with access to Mediaset prior to 1985 exhibited greater support for Berlusconi’s party in 1994, when he first ran for office, and in the four following elections. This effect cannot be attributed to pro- Berlusconi news bias since no news programs were broadcast on Mediaset until 1991, when access to the network was already ubiquitous. We discuss alternative channels through which exposure to non-news content may have influenced Mediaset viewers’ political attitudes.
Keywords: mass media,voting,civic engagement
2014 - n° 62
ABSTRACT Using longitudinal data from the Generations and Gender Surveys (for Bulgaria, France, and Italy), we study the determinants of predicted happiness associated with childbearing and then its role for explaining realized childbearing. “Expected happiness”, as declared by individuals, is indeed a powerful predictor of their fertility behavior. Those who expect to be happier from childbearing indeed have a much higher probability of having a child within the following three years. But the results also show strong gender and country differences in the level of expected happiness and its effect on fertility behavior. For example, in Italy we see that individuals tend to have a high expected happiness from childbearing, yet realized fertility is low. What separates this study from recent papers considering happiness and fertility is that in the GGS the question about happiness is specific with respect to childbearing. Previous studies tend to focus on overall happiness, which has the drawback of, first, having relatively low variation in responses, and second, it refers to the general level of happiness, which incorporates a whole range of factors, not just children.
2014 - n° 61
ABSTRACT This article provides a comprehensive picture of economic inequality in northwestern Italy (Piedmont), focusing on the long-term developments occurring from 1300 to 1800 ca. Regional studies of this kind are rare, and none of them has as long a timescale. The new data proposed illuminate many little-known aspects of wealth distribution and general economic inequality in preindustrial times, and support the idea that during the Early Modern period, inequality grew everywhere: both in cities and in rural areas, and independently from whether the economy was growing or stagnating. This finding challenges earlier views that explained inequality growth as the consequence of economic development. The importance of demographic processes affecting inequality is underlined, and the impact of severe mortality crises, like the Black Death, is analyzed.
Keywords: economic inequality; social inequality; wealth concentration; middle ages; early modern period; Piedmont; Sabaudian States; Italy; plague; Black Death
2014 - n° 60
ABSTRACT It is well established that the departure from the parental home of young Italian adults occurs at a particularly late age, especially when compared to northern European countries. Moreover, in Italy a large gap exists between young people’s aspirations and their subsequent realization. This study aims to explore the factors favouring or hampering the successful achievement of residential independence from the family of origin. Using data from the longitudinal surveys “Family and Social Subjects”, carried out by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat) in 2003 and 2007, we analyze leaving home as a mid-term decision-making process. Our results provide empirical evidence that the inability to find a stable job reduces young adults’ autonomy. Net of employment status, attitudes and social norms also have an important effect on the intention to leave the family home. The socio-cultural status of the family of origin specifically favours the successful realization of the behaviour. Notably, this effect is gender-specific, with women more influenced by the mother and men by the father.
Keywords: leaving the parental home,young adulthood,family ties
2013 - n° 59
The Role of Parental Social Class in the Transition to Adulthood: A Sequence Analysis Approach in Italy and the United States
ABSTRACT Compared to older cohorts, young adults in developed societies delay their transition to adulthood. Yet within cohorts, variations in timing and sequencing of events still remain. A major determinant of life course events is social class. This characteristic can influence the sequence of events in terms of socioeconomic inequalities through a different availability of opportunities for social mobility. Several studies show that in North America, a higher familial status tends to decrease the complexity of trajectories, while the opposite effect has been found in Southern Europe. This research examines the sequence of transitions, highlighting in a comparative perspective how life trajectories are influenced by parental social class in the United States and Italy. The main result of the analysis is that the effect of parental background is different across countries. In the United States, we find that a high status favors not only a higher education and an early entry in the labor market, but also a higher heterogeneity of states and the occurrence of new behaviors like single living and cohabitation. In Italy, the effect of social class is gender-specific. Among men, a higher social class tends to delay transitions more than lead towards modern behaviors. Among women, a higher social class either tends to facilitate the experience of a more modern and independent transition, or it generates a higher probability of postponing exit from the parental home, and then family formation, among those who completed their education and found a job.
Keywords: transition to adulthood; social class; parental background; sequence analysis
2013 - n° 58
Inequality (un)perceived: The emergence of a discourse on economic inequality from the Middle Ages to the Age of Revolutions
Long-term developments in economic inequality are attracting growing attention. Earlier works focused on producing reliable measures of inequality, which overall suggest that in Europe, inequality levels were already high in preindustrial times and tended to grow almost continuously from the Middle Ages until the eve of the Industrial Revolution. Proposing a significantly different perspective, this article explores whether the change in inequality is connected to a change in how a condition of unequal distribution of property/income was perceived. By referring to large databases of manuscripts and printed editions covering ca. 1100-1830, we measure the occurrences of keywords connected to the notions of equality/inequality to determine when inequality became a topic considered worthy of specific reflection. Key texts are analyzed in depth to discover how and when such keywords acquired an economic meaning. Lastly, changes in meaning are connected to changes in levels of economic inequality. We demonstrate that the notions of equality/inequality appeared first in scholarly fields far from economic concerns and only slowly acquired economic meanings. This process intensified in the decades preceding the French Revolution of 1789, suggesting that changes in inequality levels contributed to brewing political upheaval in the Age of Revolutions.
Keywords: equality; inequality; economic inequality; social inequality; middle ages; early modern period; French revolution; economic thought
2013 - n° 57
The paper gives an update to earlier analysis considering youth poverty and transition to adulthood, which is timely given the economic crisis engulfing many countries in Europe. Whereas, the crisis is affecting young people in particular, there is also huge variation across Europe. We document the short-term consequences of the current recession on the transition to adulthood of young Europeans, focusing on two main cornerstones in the transition to adulthood: economic independence and residential autonomy. We show an almost universal increase in financial hardship experienced by young adults during the recession, which is starting to translate into higher rates of co-residence with parents, hence delaying the process of leaving home and gaining economic independence. The economic recession will have a huge impact on young people and their the transition to adulthood. Economic deprivation and uncertainty will most likely delay the key markers of transition to adulthood.
Keywords: transition to adulthood,poverty,deprivation,crisis
2013 - n° 56
This paper aims to investigate whether friends’ and peers’ behavior influence and individual’s entry into marriage and parenthood during the transition to adulthood of young, U.S. adults. After first studying entry into marriage and parenthood as two independent events, we then examine them as interrelated processes, thereby considering them as two joint outcomes of an individual’s unique, underlying family-formation strategy. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we engage in a series of discrete time event history models to test whether the larger the number of friends and peers who get married (or have a child), the sooner the individual gets married (or has a child). Results show strong cross-friend effects on entry into parenthood, whereas entry into marriage is only affected by peer effects. Estimates of a multiprocess model show that cross-friend effects on entry into parenthood remain strongly significant even when we control for cross-process unobserved heterogeneity.
Keywords: social interactions,peer effects,fertility,marriage,multiprocess,event history analysis
2012 - n° 55
We argue that fertility trends in advanced societies are in part driven by differences in trust. The argument builds around the idea that trust implies individuals and couples being willing to outsource traditional family activities to other individuals outside their own family. Trust is therefore seen as a catalyser for the process of increased female labour force participation, the diffusion of childcare facilities, and hence a halt to the continuing fertility decline. Support of this hypothesis is drawn from the World Values Survey and European Values Survey. We present evidence both from country-level regressions and from a series of multilevel analyses. We find that trust by itself is positively associated with fertility over recent decades. Moreover, trust interacts with women’s education. In particular, as higher education for women has expanded, which traditionally is seen as a robust predictor for lower fertility, trust is a precondition for achieving higher fertility among those women with very high education.
Keywords: generalized trust,low fertility,women’s education,outsourcing,multilevel models
2012 - n° 54
I examine the post-war economic development of two regions in southern Italy exposed to mafia activity after the 1970s and apply synthetic control methods to estimate their counterfactual economic performance in the absence of organized crime. The synthetic control is a weighted average of other regions less affected by ma a activity that mimics the economic structure and outcomes of the regions of interest several years before the advent of organized crime. The comparison of actual and counterfactual development shows that the presence of ma a lowers GDP per capita by 16%, at the same time as murders increase sharply relative to the synthetic control. Evidence from electricity consumption and growth accounting suggests that lower GDP reflects a net loss of economic activity, due to the substitution of private capital with less productive public investment, rather than a mere reallocation from the official to the unofficial sector.
Keywords: organized crime,economic development,synthetic control methods
2012 - n° 53
Interpersonal trust favors the expansion of organizations by allowing the delegation of decisions and tasks among anonymous others or people that interact only infrequently. We document these facts for a representative survey of Italian manufacturing firms and use this source of data to construct an industry-specific measure of need-for-delegation in production. We then show that trust shapes comparative advantage, as high-trust regions and countries exhibit larger value added and export shares in delegation-intensive industries relative to other industries. Such effects are associated with an increase in average firm size, while the number of firms is not significantly affected. Larger average size reflects in turn a shift of the distribution away from the smallest firms, consistently with the idea that trust allows organizations to expand beyond the narrow circle of family members and close friends.
Keywords: trust,delegation,firm size,comparative advantage
2012 - n° 52
We present a theoretical model of immigration and crime in which legal status raises the opportunity cost of crime, illegal immigrants may be deported, and there is endogenous selection into legal status. We estimate the model exploiting administrative records on the universe of prison inmates pardoned with a clemency bill in Italy on August 2006, and exogenous variation in legal status after the European Union enlargement of January 2007. The causal effect of legal status amounts to a 50% reduction in recidivism, and explains 1/2 to 2/3 of the observed differences in crime rates between legal and illegal immigrants.
Keywords: immigration,crime,legal status
2012 - n° 51
Large variation exists in the frequency of informal childcare provided by grandparents across Europe. At the same time, a wide North-South divide characterizes European social policies. Do welfare policy arrangements shape the role of grandparents? If yes, to what extent do grandparenting depend on the availability of public services offered for child care, parental leave regulation and legal obligations of family support? Combining micro-data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe and macro-indicators from the Multilinks database, this study aims to answer these questions and to further clarify the link between welfare provision and use of grandparents' resources for working mothers. By implementing country-specific regression models, we find a clear association between the policy context of the country of residence and (daily) grandparenting.
Keywords: Grandparental childcare,intergenerational relationships,policies,multilinks database
2012 - n° 50
This paper investigates how social interactions among friends shape fertility. We specifically examine whether and how friends' fertility behaviour affects an individual's transition to parenthood. By integrating insights from economic and sociological theories, we elaborate on the mechanisms via which interactions among friends might affect an individual's risk of becoming a parent. By exploiting the survey design of the Add Health data, we follow a strategy that allows us to properly identify interaction effects and distinguish them from selection and contextual effects. We engage in a series of discrete time event history models with random effect at the dyadic level. Results show that, net of confounding effects, a friend's childbearing increases an individual's risk of becoming a parent. We find a short-term, curvilinear effect: an individual's risk of childbearing starts increasing after a friend's childbearing, it reaches its peak around two years later, and then decreases.
Keywords: transition to parenthood,add-health,social interaction,peer effect
2011 - n° 49
High development and fertility: Fertility at older reproductive ages and gender equality explain the positive link
A fundamental switch in the fertilitydevelopment relationship has occurred so that among highly developed countries, further socioeconomic development may reverse the declining fertility trend. Here we shed light on the mechanisms underlying this reversal by analyzing the links between development and age and cohort patterns of fertility, as well as the role of gender equality. Using data from 1975 to 2008 for over 100 countries, we show that the reversal exists both in a period and a cohort perspective and is mainly driven by increasing older reproductive-age fertility. We also show that the positive impact of development on fertility in high-development countries is conditional on gender equality: countries ranking high in development as measured by health, income, and education but low in gender equality continue to experience declining fertility. Our findings suggest that gender equality is crucial for countries wishing to reap the fertility dividend of high development.
Keywords: low fertility,socioeconomic development,Human Development Index,gender equality
2011 - n° 48
Good estimates of HIV prevalence are important for policy makers in order to plan control programs and interventions. Although population-based surveys are now considered the "gold standard" to monitor the HIV epidemic, they are usually plagued by problems of nonignorable nonresponse. This paper uses the partial identification approach to assess the uncertainty caused by missing HIV status. We show how to exploit the availability of panel data and the absorbing nature of HIV infection to narrow the worst-case bounds without imposing assumptions on the missing-data mechanism. Applied to longitudinal data from rural Malawi, the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project (MDICP), our approach results in a reduction of the width of the worst-case bounds by about 18.2 percentage points in 2004, 13.2 percentage points in 2006, and 2.4 percentage points in 2008. We also use plausible instrumental variable and monotone instrumental variable restrictions to further narrow the bounds.
Keywords: partial identification,nonignorable nonresponse,panel data.HIV prevalence,Malawi,Diffusion and Ideational Change Project data
2011 - n° 46
The general aim of this paper is to investigate the educational aspirations of the children of immigrants living in Italy and attending the last year of primary school (8th grade). We look at the educational aspirations both as a predictor of educational choice and as a measure of social integration. We consider both secondary school track and university aspirations as indicators of educational preferences in the short and long run. Data have been collected during the 2005-2006 school year and they come from the ITAGEN survey: the first Italian nation-wide extensive survey on children with at least one foreign-born parent. First, we analyze association between aspirations and structural characteristics (e.g. migration status and country of origin) and social aspects such as family socioeconomic status, and friendship ties. These aspects seem to be determinants in defining both short and long time aspirations, while long-term aspirations are not associated with migration status. Second, we investigate the relevance of context in delineating educational aspirations. To develop this second aspect we perform multilevel analysis that takes into account both individual and school level variables. Our hypothesis, confirmed both for short and long aspirations, is that attending a school where most of the Italian pupils have high educational aspirations may lead children of immigrants to enhance their own aspirations.
Keywords: educational aspirations,immigrant integration,ITAGEN,friendship ties,scholastic context
2011 - n° 45
There is a growing literature considering the relationship between parental divorce and children's life-course patterns. However, there is no general consensus on whether parental separation accelerates or postpones children's transition to adulthood. The aim of this paper is to add to this literature by analyzing the effect of parental divorce on the timing of nest-leaving of young adults. After providing descriptive findings using the recent Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) for five European countries (France, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Russia), we assess the extent to which the associations between divorce and nest-leaving timing is masked by different effects. First, do children of divorced parents develop different characteristics (e.g., human capital construction and socialization) which in turn make them leave the parental home at a different rate? Secondly, do children of divorced people leave the parental home at a different age because of the new family structure? Our findings show that children who experienced divorce leave home at a faster rate, but the last child in the household who would leave the mother alone delays his/her departure.
Keywords: Generations and Gender Survey,GGS,divorce,living home,life-course patterns,France,Georgia,Hungary,Italy,Russia
2011 - n° 44
We empirically investigate the determinants of the female decision of investing in post-secondary education, focusing on the role played by the context where young women take their education decision. We first develop a stylized two-period model to analyse the female decision of investing in education and highlight two main determinants: the time to be devoted to child care and the probability of working in a skilled job. We then use data on educational decisions of women in the 17-21 age group drawn from EU-Silc, available for the years 2004-2008. From the same survey we construct context indicators at the regional level, and exploit regional variability to identify how women's educational investment reacts to changes in the surrounding context. We find that the share of working women with children below 5 and the share of women with managerial positions or self-employed positively affect the probability that women enrol in post-secondary education. The same does not hold for men.
Keywords: post-secondary education,university,child care time requirement,managerial positions,self-employment,context,EU-Silc,repeated cross section
2011 - n° 43
In this paper I study the determinants of height from birth to early adulthood in the Philippines. In order to do that, I specify a height production function. The structure of the production function allows height to be the result of the accumulation of inputs over time. I use a rich longitudinal data set on Filipino children born in 1983 and followed for more than 20 years. The results show that inputs from conception to birth are relevant at each age of the children. Nutrition inputs have a positive effect on the child's height, with similar effects across ages. The shorter the distance between the age when the nutrition input is applied and the age when height is measured, the higher the impact on height. The earlier disease inputs are experienced, the larger their negative effect on height. The older the child, the stronger the effects of past diseases. Thus my paper provides evidence on the importance of early life events also for final height.
Keywords: height,health,early-life events,production function,Philippines
2011 - n° 42
Using the British Household Panel Survey this paper explores the extent to which marital and cohabiting unions differ with respect to the short term effects of union dissolution on psychological distress. We test the hypothesis that spouses experience larger negative effects but the results show that this difference is not statistically significant once the presence of children is controlled for. Having children is found to be a major source of psychological distress when one is going through union dissolution. However, it does not explain high psychological distress which seems to be associated with intrinsic factors (the personality trait neuroticism) rather than with contextual factors.
Keywords: cohabitation,marriage,union dissolution,marital protection,psychological distress,BHPS,GHQ
2011 - n° 41
In this article we compare two techniques that are widely used in the analysis of life course trajectories, latent class analysis (LCA) and sequence analysis (SA). In particular, we focus on the use of these techniques as devices to obtain classes of individual life course trajectories. We first compare the consistency of the classification obtained via the two techniques using an actual dataset on the life course trajectories of young adults. Then, we adopt a simulation approach to measure the ability of these two methods to correctly classify groups of life course trajectories when specific forms of "random" variability are introduced within pre-specified classes in an artificial dataset. In order to do so, we introduce simulation operators that have a life course and/or observational meaning. Our results contribute on the one hand to outline the usefulness and robustness of findings based on the classification of life course trajectories through LCA and SA, on the other hand to illuminate the potential pitfalls of actual applications of these techniques.
Keywords: sequence analysis,latent class analysis,life course analysis,categorical time series
2011 - n° 40
This article analyzes social norms regulating selection of godparents in Italy and France and how they will be affected by demographic change. On the grounds of Vatican statistics and of the World Values Survey, it demonstrates that baptisms still occur for the vast majority of children in Catholic Europe and that birth rituals are considered important even by non-believers. Relying on historical data, it shows that the custom of selecting godparents from among kinsmen, currently dominant, is a recent development. A new survey about selection of godparents in Italy and France is used which shows that they are not chosen for religious, but for social-relational reasons. Selection of kinsmen is the norm, with uncles and aunts being the majority choice. For Italy, choice determinants are explored by means of multinomial regressions. The results are contrasted with demographic change to show that in lowest-low fertility countries current godparenthood models are bound to disappear.
Keywords: godparenthood,godparents,spiritual kinship,demographic change,social change,social customs,social norms,baptism,lowest-low fertility
2011 - n° 39
In this paper, I investigate the role of family trajectory, i.e. the whole sequence of family events during the life course of early adults in shaping their health outcomes. I jointly consider union formation and childbearing, since the two life domains are highly connected and their intersections may have an effect on health outcomes. Data come from Wave I and Wave IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The paper is divided in two parts. First, I focus on transitions and investigate if changes in timing (when events happen), quantum (what and how many transitions) and sequencing (in what order), have an effect on the health of young women. In the second part, I classify life course trajectories into six groups representing different ideal-types of family trajectories and I explore the association of these trajectories with health outcomes. Results suggest that family trajectories play an important role on different health outcomes. Controlling for selection and background characteristics, precocious and "non-normative" transitions are associated with lower self-reported health and higher propensity of smoking and drinking.
Keywords: sequence analysis,life course analysis,health outcomes,transition to adulthood
2011 - n° 38
The paper analyses the impact of grandparenting on individuals' fertility behaviour using longitudinal data from eleven European countries. In particular, we focus on how siblings may share and compete for grandparents' time in terms of childcare. By considering different family scenarios, we show that availability of grandparenting play an important role in individuals' decision making for having children. Grandparenting is particularly important in the South of Europe where public childcare is limited and here we see a large impact of grandparenting on fertility.
Keywords: fertility,grandparents,SHARE,extended family
2011 - n° 37
The sensitivity of the Scaled Model of Error with respect to the choice of the correlation parameters: A simulation study
In this paper we investigate the sensitivity of stochastic population forecasts produced by means of the Scaled Model of Error with respect to the choice of the correlation parameters. In particular, we evaluate the impact that a change in the specification of the correlation of the age-specific fertility forecast error increments across time and age and of the correlation of the age-specific mortality forecast error increments across time, age and sex has on the forecasts of the Total Fertility Rate and of the Male and Female Life Expectancies respectively. In our opinion a sensitivity analysis of this kind is extremely useful, since up to now the relevance and the impact of the choice of the Scaled Model of Error input parameters has not be discussed in detail. Such analysis will provide users with a better understanding of the model itself.
Keywords: population forecasts,Scaled Model of Error,sensitivity analysis
2011 - n° 36
Grandparenting and mothers' labour force participation: A comparative analysis using the Generations and Gender Survey
Using data from seven countries drawn from the Generations and Gender Survey, we study the relationship between informal childcare provided by grandparents and mothers' employment. The extent of formal childcare varies substantially across European countries and so does the role of grandparents in helping out rearing children. The extent of grandparenting also depends on their attitudes, which in turn relate to social norms and availability of public childcare, and hence the country context where individuals reside matters considerably. Within families, attitudes toward childcare are associated with attitudes towards women's working decisions. The fact that we do not observe these attitudes may bias the estimates. By using instrumental variable techniques we find that only in some countries mothers' employment is positively and significantly associated with grandparents providing childcare. In other countries, once we control for unobserved attitudes we do not find this effect.
Keywords: female labour market participation,grandparents,childcare,attitudes,omitted variable bias
2010 - n° 35
We use actor-network theory (ANT) to understand how social workers in a large Italian local health authority might interact with a wiki space to share resources, inform practice, and maintain their professional identity. At the time of study, the wiki was proposed as a replacement technology for an existing structured knowledge management system (KMS). We introduce the case organization, the social workers and the problem and then describe the key concepts of ANT and how they can be used to guide socio-technical analysis of the potential for a proposed new information technology. ANT was applied in two ways. Firstly, we analyzed how the social workers' existing KMS came about, using the processes of translation as defined in ANT to reconstruct the events leading to that choice and the subsequent idea of replacing the KMS with a wiki. We then used a due process model and drew the actor-network in order to consider the wiki as a potential replacement for the existing KMS. As part of this process, we present the design of a seed structure and participation process for a wiki that would both maintain the value of KMS work done to date and meet additional needs for informal learning and maintenance of professional identity among the social workers. The successful adoption and sustainability of the wiki will depend on strengthening its association with the other stakeholders participating in the project.
Keywords: wiki,social workers,health sector,actor-network theory,Italy,seed design
2010 - n° 34
The assumption that people make decisions based on a constant set of preferences, so that choices should not depend on context-specific cues (anchors), is one of the cornerstones of economic theory. We reexamined the effects of an anchoring manipulation on the valuation of common market goods that was introduced in Ariely, Lowenstein and Prelec (2003). We found much weaker anchoring effects. We performed the same manipulation on the evaluation of binary lotteries, and we found no anchoring effects. This suggests limits on the robustness of strong anchoring effects. Hence, the evidence that people have arbitrary preferences may not be conclusive, and economic theory may still be valid in many cases of interest.
Keywords: preferences,anchoring,willingness to pay,Becker-DeGroot-Marschak mechanism
2010 - n° 33
We develop a method for the derivation of expert-based stochastic population forecasts. The full probability distribution of forecasts is specified by expert opinions on future developments, elicited conditional on the realization of high, central, low scenarios. The procedure is applied to forecast the Italian population, using scenarios from the Italian National Statistical Office (ISTAT) and the Statistical Office of the European Union (EUROSTAT).
Keywords: stochastic population forecasting,random scenario,conditional expert opinions,Italian population forecasts
2010 - n° 32
Young people leave the parental home at different ages, and differences exist both between and within societies. To explain this heterogeneity, differences in earnings and employment, education and family formation are popular candidates. Comparative research has emphasised the importance of institutional arrangements, in particular the way state welfare systems are able to support young individuals in the transition to adulthood. It has been argued, however, that despite differences in welfare support, differences in social norms also play an important role. In this paper we make an attempt to explain the heterogeneity in individuals' perceptions of the age deadline for leaving home. Using information from the third round of the European Social Survey (ESS) we implement a series of multi-level regression models where we account both for country and regional heterogeneity. The idea is that contextual variables may affect individuals' perception of the age deadline, which in turn is likely to matter for the actual age of leaving home. Just as in the literature concerned with explaining actual behaviour, we find that strong normative differences between countries persist. We also find significant, though lower, regional variability in the analysis on the pooled set of European countries we have in our data set. Unemployment rate and education are found to have a strong role in explaining heterogeneity of norms at the country level, while religiosity influences age norms mostly at the regional level. This is consistent with the idea that cultural factors are important at the regional level while structural factors show their influence at the country level.
Keywords: age norms,European Social Survey,leaving home,multilevel analysis
2010 - n° 31
Living arrangements of second generation immigrants in Spain: A cross-classified multilevel analysis
Using a cross-classified multilevel modelling approach, we study the probability of living outside the parental home for second generation immigrants in Spain, a latest-late transition to adulthood country. We simultaneously take into account two sources of heterogeneity: the country of origin and the province of residence in Spain. Using micro-census data we are able to consider all main immigrant groups. We find that living arrangements vary extremely according to immigrants' origin, although a geographical clustering emerges. The cultural heritage, as represented for example by the mean age at marriage in the country of origin, still plays an important role in shaping second generation immigrants' patterns of co-residence with their parents. Even though the effect of the province of residence is less pronounced, it is not negligible. In particular, the cultural climate of the province, as measured by the proportion of cohabiting couples, is found to be influential for both immigrant and native young adults' living arrangements.
Keywords: cross-classified multilevel models,living arrangements,second generation immigrants,Spain,young adults
2010 - n° 30
In this paper we examine how the use of Web 2.0 tools (such as Wikis, Blogs, Social Networking) might provide a digital foundation for a Transactive Memory System (TMS). TMS facilitate knowledge sharing and retrieval processes in groups by the use of a well-maintained knowledge directory. The theory of TMS explains how it is that a group appears to have a group mind and research shows that a well functioning TMS improves group performance. Web 2.0 software embeds data about authors, interested parties and related information into the content created in these tools, constituting essentially a knowledge directory which can be used to locate knowledge seekers or advise them of content they may be interested in. Consequently, the use of Web 2.0 tools may improve knowledge absorption and utilisation by supporting TMS. This is a conceptual paper, which seeks to provide a link between Web 2.0 and TMS and, by implication, enhancement in the functioning of groups and organisations.
Keywords: transactive memory systems,TMS,social software,Web 2.0,collective learning,knowledge sharing,knowledge management
2010 - n° 29
People's childbearing intentions change over the course of their reproductive lives. These changes have been conceptualised as occurring in response to the realisation that an individual is unlikely to achieve his or her intended fertility, because of constraints such as the biological clock or lack of a partner. In this paper we find that changes to childbearing plans are actually influenced by a much wider range of factors than this. People change their plans in response to the wishes of their partners, in response to social norms, as the result of re-partnering, and as the result of learning about the costs and benefits of parenthood; there are also differences between the factors which influence men's and women's decision-making. A key feature of this paper is that, in a departure from existing studies in this area, we use a flexible analytical framework which enables us to analyse increases in planned fertility separately from decreases. This allows us to uncover several complexities of the decision-making process which would otherwise be hidden, and leads us to conclude that the determinants of increases in planned fertility are not simply equal and opposite to the determinants of decreases.
Keywords: fertility intentions,individual decision-making,constraints to childbearing,intention-behaviour mismatch,theory of planned behavior
2010 - n° 28
As unemployment rises across the European Union (EU) it is important to understand the extent to which the incomes of the new unemployed are protected by tax-benefit systems and to assess the cost pressures on the governments. This paper uses the EU tax-benefit model EUROMOD to explore these issues, comparing effects in five countries. It provides evidence on the differing degrees of resilience of the household incomes of the newly unemployed due to the variations in the protection offered by the tax-benefit systems, according to whether unemployment benefit is payable, the household situation of the unemployed person, and across countries.
Keywords: unemployment,economic crisis,European Union,household income,microsimulation
2010 - n° 27
Climate, population and famine in Northern Italy: General tendencies and Malthusian crisis, ca. 1450-1800
This article provides a picture of long-term developments in the relationship between population and resources in Northern Italy that takes fully into account climate. It analyzes both the slow underlying development of climatic conditions over the centuries (in the theoretical framework of the Little Ice Age) and the consequences of short-term periods of heightened instability. The most severe famines are shown to be events triggered by climatic and environmental factors operating at a time when the maximum carrying capacity of the system had been reached or, at least, when the population was exerting considerable pressure on the potential for food production. This is the case of the famine of the 1590s, the greatest demographic catastrophe of a non-epidemic nature to strike Northern Italy since the Black Death and up to the end of the eighteenth century. The article also analyzes long-term paths of agrarian innovation, suggesting that most (but not all) of this was consistent with Boserup's idea of chain-reactions of innovations induced by demographic pressure. These processes, though, were too slow to compensate for a rapidly growing population. Finally, the article provides a periodization in which the period between the famine of the 1590s and the great plague pandemic of 1630 is shown to be the crucial turning point in how population dynamics, climate and agrarian innovation interacted.
Keywords: history of climate,plague,famine,Little Ice Age,Malthusian crisis,Early Modern Italy,agrarian innovation,alfani
2010 - n° 26
Using descriptive statistics, civil marriages and marriages preceded by premarital cohabitation are more unstable, i.e., more frequently followed by divorce. However, the literature has shown that selectivity plays an important role in the relationship between premarital cohabitation and union dissolution. We do not have evidence to date regarding the selectivity in the effect of civil marriage. The Italian case appears particularly interesting given the recent diffusion of premarital cohabitation and civil marriage. Using micro-level data from a national-level representative survey held in 2003, we develop a multiprocess model that allows unobserved heterogeneity to be correlated across the three decisions (premarital cohabitation, civil marriage, and divorce). Our results show that selectivity is the main factor that explains the higher divorce rates among those who experience premarital cohabitation and a civil marriage. Net of selectivity, the causal effect on union dissolution disappears.
Keywords: divorce,cohabitation,civil marriage,religion,multiprocess models,selectivity
2010 - n° 25
Recent developments in applications of network analysis to history are leading to a new way of thinking about how social and economic actors interacted in the past. Focus on the social tie has resulted in increased interest in relational instruments that have not previously been taken into great consideration. This article analyses some of these instruments, and particularly godparenthood and marriage witnessing, as ways to establish formal and public ties. It shows that formalisation, ritualisation and publicity of ties were used by entrepreneurs to establish trust with their business associates, in situations when information was asymmetric or when institutions were perceived as inefficient in guaranteeing mutual good behaviour. The paper underlines both factors of continuity and factors of change over time, from the Middle Ages to today, paying particular attention to the consequences of Reformation and Counter-Reformation on one hand, and of Industrial Revolution and Modernization on the other. It shows, in the light of the most recent literature, that much of what we think to know about the declining importance, for social and economic activity, of family ties and of weaker ties such as godparenthood, is actually a kind of prejudice originating from a twentieth-century ideology of the market in which ancient practices struggle to find a place but are not abandoned.
Keywords: godparenthood,spiritual kinship,marriage witnesses,trust,entrepreneurship,Industrial Revolution,Reformation,formalisation of social tie
2009 - n° 24
We suggest a new comprehensive measure of support given through tax-benefit systems to families with children. Using microsimulation techniques, this accounts for all provisions contingent on the presence of children, while usually only gross child/family benefits are considered. We use EUROMOD, the European Union tax-benefit microsimulation model, to quantify the support for children and analyse its impact on household incomes and child poverty for 19 countries. We find that the conventional approach underestimates on average the total amount of support for children by about one fifth. Furthermore, the differences between the two measures vary considerably across countries and are, therefore, critical for cross-national comparisons.
Keywords: children,taxes and cash benefits,child poverty,European Union,microsimulation
2009 - n° 23
Since the Soviet Union's collapse, Georgia has undergone profound socio-political and demographic changes. This paper examines recent fertility trends in Georgia using GGS data from 2006. Results show that the postponement of first birth does not significantly account for the decline in childbearing, suggesting that decline is primarily due to a reduction of second-order births. I then investigate determinants of intentions to have a second child in three different periods: now, within three years and ever. Findings reveal that household income, education level and psychological well-being of the respondents as well as their satisfaction concerning the division of tasks within the couple have a significant effect on second birth decision-making. However, these determinants differ significantly regarding the timing of the intended child. On the other hand, there seems to be no effect of ideational changes, represented by a measure of the spread of post-materialist values within the society, on fertility intentions.
Keywords: fertility intentions; fertility decline; Georgia,GGS data
2009 - n° 22
Increasing life expectancy coupled with declining birth rates is prompting European countries to revise their current pension schemes. The key elements of pension reforms are 1) introducing funded schemes as a means to supplement the current pay-as-you-go system, and 2) a lengthening of the working careers of European citizens. The policy reforms needed constitutes perhaps the biggest challenge facing European policy makers since the introduction of the welfare state after the Second World War. The urgency of the policy reforms are reflected by the European Council Summits of Stockholm (2001) and Barcelona (2002), where the attending policy makers agreed to both increase the labour force participation among older workers and to delay the retirement period. Notwithstanding the efforts, recent changes in the employment rates and the retirement age indicate that the great majority of countries are way off the targets set for 2010. On the backdrop of the policy challenges lying ahead, we consider in this paper individuals' preferences for work and retirement in 23 European countries. A deeper understanding of these preferences helps policy makers, not only informing them about the potential success of the planned pension reforms, but also to make adjustments to its design that may lead to efficiency gains in welfare provision. We find that on average individuals prefer to retire at a younger age than the current mean retirement age. However, there is huge variation in these preferences both at the individual and country levels. We find rather robust evidence to suggest that individuals are willing to work longer as the average life expectancy is increasing.
Keywords: life expectancy,GDP,retirement preferences,pension reforms,European Social Survey,multilevel models
2009 - n° 21
Agent-based modelling and numerical simulations are means that facilitate exploring the structural and dynamic characteristics of systems which may prove intractable with analytical methods. This contribution examines the issues related to them with a particular attention to their use in the study of social economic and ecological systems. Besides a general description, the possibilities, limitations and their relationship with other more traditional investigation methods are examined. Special focus is put on the assessment of their validation and reliability. Finally an application example is provided. A simple model is built to analyse the movements of tourists and the relationship between these and the attractiveness of a tourism destination. The results are discussed along with possible future developments.
Keywords: agent-based models,simulations,complex systems,tourism destination
2009 - n° 20
We use the theory of planned behavior to investigate the role of attitudes, norms and perceived behavioural control on short-term and long-term fertility intentions, using data from Norway (N = 1,307). There is some evidence that, net of other background variables, positive scores on these factors makes it easier to establish concrete childbearing plans, especially among parents. Subjective norms are particularly important among both parents and childless adults, while perceptions of behavioural control have no additional effect once the actual life situation is taken into account. Attitudes are not important in decisions about the timing of becoming a parent, probably because the main issue for childless adults is not the timing, but the decision to have a child or not.
Keywords: fertility intentions,fertility timing,theory of planned behavior,Norway
2009 - n° 19
Assessing the quality of institutions' rankings obtained through multilevel linear regression models
The aim of this paper is to assess the quality of the ranking of institutions obtained with multilevel techniques in presence of different model misspecifications and data structures. Through a Monte Carlo simulation study, we find that it is quite hard to obtain a reliable ranking of the whole effectiveness distribution while, under various experimental conditions, it is possible to identify institutions with extreme performances. Ranking quality increases with increasing intra class correlation coefficient and/or overall sample size. Furthermore, multilevel models where the between and within cluster components of first-level covariates are distinguished perform significantly better than both multilevel models where the two effects are set to be equal and the fixed effect models.
Keywords: multilevel models,ranking of institutions,second-level residuals distribution
2009 - n° 18
Using a specific data set drawn from the Spanish Module Education to Labour Market Transitions (2000), this paper analyses the labour market entrance of Spanish school leavers and the match between education and work at the early stages of working life. Moreover, special attention is paid to graduates, because Spain experienced a strong growth in the demand for higher education during the last decades of 20th century. The empirical evidence shows that, besides other personal and family individual's characteristics, human capital exerts a strong influence on the finding of an employment. With regard to the match between education and work, the results indicate that over-education is a common phenomenon in the Spanish youth labour market. However, unlike what one could expect, being a graduate seems to be associated to a lower likelihood of over-education in the first employment.
Keywords: university education,school to work transitions,mismatch in the labour market,Spain
2009 - n° 17
In this paper the question of within-country heterogeneity in patterns of transition to adulthood is addressed, focusing on the exit from the parental home in Spain, a country representative of the latest-late transition to adulthood. Microcensus data are used to investigate the relative weight that structural-contextual factors measured at the municipal level and cultural factors measured at the provincial level might have in explaining regional existing differences in the transition to independent living, by applying multilevel multinomial logistic model on three choices of living arrangements, namely, co-residing with parents, living outside the parental home and in partnership, living outside the parental home and not in partnership.
Keywords: leaving home,multilevel models,Spain
2008 - n° 16
Surveys differ in the way they measure satisfaction and happiness, so comparative research findings are vulnerable to distortion by survey design differences. We examine this using the British Household Panel Survey, exploiting its changes in question design and parallel use of different interview modes. We find significant biases in econometric results, particularly for gender differences in attitudes to the wage and hours of work. Results suggest that the common empirical finding that women care less than men about their wage and more about their hours may be an artifact of survey design rather than a real behavioural difference.
Keywords: satisfaction,measurement error,questionnaire design,BHPS
2008 - n° 15
We present an introduction to the NetLogo simulation environment using the Segregation Model presented by Nobel Prize Winner Thomas Schelling in 1978. While reviewing the model, its Netlogo implementation is described step by step, using visual tools accompanied by the code for programming in the Netlogo language. Two extensions to the original model are proposed and programmed. All the models are fully described in the text.
2008 - n° 14
This paper investigates the role of extended parental leave in the return to work of mothers of newborn children. Exploiting the variability in policies offered by European countries, the paper studies the influence of statutory leave on the probability of returning to work at different ages of the child. Results suggest that providing paid leaves increases the probability of remaining at home when the child is under 3, and that lengthy statutory leaves are associated with being more likely to return eventually to work.
Keywords: parental leaves,women’s labour supply,childbirth,childcare
2008 - n° 13
Estimating the causal effect of fertility on economic wellbeing: Data requirements, identifying assumptions and estimation methods
This paper aims to answer to what extent fertility has a causal effect on households economic wellbeing-an issue that has received considerable interest in development studies and policy analysis. However, only recently has the literature begun to give importance to adequate modelling for estimation of causal effects. We discuss several strategies for causal inference, stressing that their validity must be judged on the assumptions we can plausibly formulate in a given application, which in turn depends on the richness of available data. This discussion has a general importance, representing a set of guidelines that can be helpful to choose the appropriate strategy of analysis. We contrast methods relying on the Unconfoundedness Assumption, which include regressions and propensity score matching, with Instrumental Variable methods. We discuss why they give different estimates of the causal effect using data from the Vietnam Living Standard Measurement Survey.
Keywords: fertility,poverty,causal inference,unconfoundedness,instrumental variables,VLSMS
2008 - n° 12
Studies adopting the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) mostly use quantitative methods. Sometimes, however, researchers choose to use a qualitative method because of the nature of available data (e.g., interviews) or availability of only a limited number of cases. This paper describes a study in which the TPB was used with qualitative methods to explain differences in university teaching. It focuses primarily on the methods used: qualitative data coding, data analysis and interpretation, and methods for presenting and supporting results. The study explored factors which influence university teachers to adopt teaching models based on online social interaction when an e-learning platform is used to complement undergraduate classroom teaching. Participants were 26 university teachers (15 from Australia and 11 from Italy). They responded to a semi-structured interview based on the TPB. Three approaches to use of e-learning platforms were identified: upload of materials, use of discussion forums, and computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). Using this approach, it was possible to highlight substantial differences in the attitudes, social influence, and perceived behavioral control among the three groups.
Keywords: Theory of Planned Behavior,TPB,qualitative methods,e-learning,Learning Management System,LMS,university teaching,Online Social Interaction,Computer Supported Collaborative Learning,CSCL
2008 - n° 11
In this paper, we explore the impact of social policies and labour market characteristics on women's decisions regarding work and childbearing, using data from the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). We estimate the two decisions jointly and, in addition to personal characteristics, we include variables related to the childcare system, parental leave arrangements, family allowances, and part time opportunities. Our empirical results indicate that a non-negligible portion of the differences in labour market participation decisions of women from different European countries can be attributed to characteristics of their social policies, while the impact of environmental variables on fertility decisions is only marginally significant. Environmental effects vary by educational level in a significant way. Part-time opportunities (when well-paid and protected), childcare, optional parental leave, and child allowances have more of an impact on the participation decisions of women at lower educational levels.
Keywords: employment,fertility,childcare,parental leave
2008 - n° 10
In this paper we analyse the relationship between happiness and childbearing taking a comparative perspective. We argue that fertility and happiness are somewhat linked and we investigate whether there are important differences across European countries. Using happiness as a welfare measure offers important benefits over income especially when interest lies in understanding how individuals' wellbeing is associated with childbearing outcomes. We use the European Social Survey (ESS) and apply simple regression techniques, controlling for country differences, and find indeed a positive and significant association between happiness and childbearing. However, parents do not appear to be consistently happier in some countries than in others. The final set of analyses reveals a very strong interconnection between, childbearing, partnership and happiness.
Keywords: happiness,childbearing,European social survey,ESS
2008 - n° 9
Using data from the British Household Panel Survey, this paper assesses the influence of personality traits on timing of motherhood and investigates whether, and in what way, personality traits can explain the differences in maternity timing between more and less educated women. We estimate a log-logistic model of the time to first child birth and show that there is a statistically significant relationship between the Big Five personality traits and timing to motherhood. The results also show that within the more educated group, women who have an average to high score on Openness have lower hazards of childbirth.
Keywords: childbearing postponement,time to first childbirth,personality traits,Big Five
2008 - n° 8
Are lone mothers responsive to policy changes? The effects of a Norwegian workfare reform on earnings, education and poverty
The generous Nordic model of welfare is commonly viewed as an exceptional success, in terms of both equality and economic growth. However, it recently became evident that subgroups of the population with weak labour market attachment and high welfare dependency, such as lone mothers, were vastly overrepresented among the poor. This prompted a workfare reform of the Norwegian welfare system for lone mothers: activity requirements were brought in, time limits imposed and benefit levels raised. To evaluate the reform we introduce an estimator that, unlike the much used difference-in-difference approach, accounts for the fact that policy changes are typically phased in gradually rather than coming into full effect immediately. The results were striking: the workfare reform has not only led to increased earnings and educational attainment but also reduced poverty.
Keywords: welfare,lone mothers,workfare reform,difference-in-difference,activity requirements,time limits,earnings,education,poverty
2008 - n° 7
The study of network representations of physical, biological, and social phenomena has developed rapidly in recent years. This paper presents a review of important results and methods of the science of networks with an application to the field of socio-economic systems. The basic definitions and computational techniques are described and the effects of a networks topology on its dynamic properties are examined and illustrated using a tourism destination as a case study (Elba, Italy). A static structural characterization of the network formed by destination stakeholders is followed by a dynamic analysis of the information diffusion process. The outcomes and the implications of this analysis for improving destination management are discussed.
Keywords: complex systems,network science,tourism destination,destination management
2008 - n° 6
Propensity Score Matching (PSM) has become a popular approach to estimation of causal effects. It relies on the assumption that selection into a treatment can be explained purely in terms of observable characteristics (the unconfoundedness assumption) and on the property that balancing on the propensity score is equivalent to balancing on the observed covariates. Several applications in social sciences are characterized by a hierarchical structure of data: units at the first level (e.g., individuals) clustered into groups (e.g., provinces). In this paper we explore the use of multilevel models for the estimation of the propensity score for such hierarchical data when one or more relevant cluster-level variables is unobserved. We compare this approach with alternative ones, like a single level model with cluster dummies. By using Monte Carlo evidence we show that multilevel specifications usually achieve reasonably good balancing in cluster level unobserved covariates and consequently reduce the omitted variable bias. This is also the case for the dummy model.
Keywords: propensity score,multilevel studies,unconfoundedness,causal inference
2008 - n° 5
Why educated mothers don't make educated children. A statistical study in the intergenerational transmission of schooling
More educated parents are observed to have better educated children. Researchers trying to control for unobserved ability have found conflicting results: in most cases, they have found a strong positive paternal effect but a negligible maternal effect. In this paper, I use a population of twins from Norwegian Register data and evaluate the impact on the robustness of the estimates of the characteristics of the samples commonly used in this strand of research: samples of small size, with low variability in parental education, not randomly selected from the population. The part of the educational distribution involved in any identification strategy seems to be the key aspect to take into account to reconcile previous results from the literature.
Keywords: intergenerational transmission,education,twin-estimator,sibling-estimator,power of the test
2008 - n° 4
Using age specific fertility rates of Italian and Swedish women aged between 15 and 49 years old I examine the presence of fertility postponement in period and cohort outputs. Period data consist of standard five-year age group rates ranging from 1960 to 2005. Cohort data are arranged on age specific year groups born between years 1930-1970. The method used in this work is based upon quadratic spline interpolation procedure, developed by Carl P. Schmertmann (2003), in which three index ages determine the schedules shape. The recent fertility postponing behavior is investigated through the help of five index ages, which show the dynamics of postponement both in cohort and period data.
Keywords: Second Demographic Transition,fertility trends,postponement,quadratic spline interpolation,Italy,Sweden
2007 - n° 2
Students' experiences at university prepare them for a future in which they are expected to engage in life-long learning. Self-efficacy theory suggests that a persons beliefs in their capacity to learn will influence their participation in learning. This paper describes development of a new scale to measure self-efficacy for learning (SEL) among university students, designed to be appropriate for both campus-based and online learning, and for administration in a battery of tests on student development. Undergraduate students (n = 265) in a business school in Milan and a department of psychology in Rome participated in the final study. Beginning with a random sample of 200 participants, item response theory and exploratory factor analysis with LISREL were used to identify a 10 item scale to measure SEL. The scales properties were confirmed in a second random sample of 200 participants, using confirmatory factor analysis in LISREL. Correlation with expected grades was, consistent with earlier studies, moderately small (.22), but statistically significant.
Keywords: academic self-efficacy,self-efficacy for learning,SEL,university,measurement scale
2007 - n° 1
The discussion on the causes of the most recent fertility decline in Europe, and in particular on the emergence of lowest low fertility, emphasizes the relevance of cultural factors as compared to economic ones. Within such framework, the heterogeneity of preferences concerning the career vs. family dichotomy has been systematized in the Preference Theory approach developed by Catherine Hakim. This heterogeneity, however, has been so far underinvestigated in a comparative framework. This paper makes use of new comparative data from the 2004/05 Round of the European Social Survey to test the links between individual-level preferences and both fertility outcomes and fertility intentions, in a variety of societal settings. Results confirm an association between work-family lifestyle preferences and realized fertility in a variety of European countries, while they do not support the relevance of lifestyle preferences on fertility intentions.
Keywords: preference theory,low and lowest low fertility,Europe,European Social Survey,welfare regime