Strong family and low fertility:a paradox?
New perspectives in interpreting contemporary family and reproductive - haviour of Mediterranean Europe 1. THE NEW GEOGRAPHY OF FERTILITY AND THE FAMILY IN EUROPE The countries of southern Europe have begun to reduce conjugal fertility at a later date compared to most other nations in the west. This has been - plained by means of the category of delay: the backwardness of the pr- esses of accumulation and economic development being seen as the cause of the maintaining of the reproductive models of the past. Moreover, the inf- ence of the Catholic Church in Italy, Spain and Portugal is supposed to have delayed the processes of secularisation, rendering difficult the changes in mentality necessary for assuming modern patterns of reproductive behaviour not only for fertility, but also for the variables which are strictly linked to it, such as sexuality, contraception and abortion (Livi Bacci, 1977; Lesthaeghe and Wilson, 1986). 1. 1. The trends of very low fertility Now the panorama is very different. Since the mid-seventies, southern Europe has been washed by the tide of a lowest-low fertility (i. e., TFR under 1. 5 for several a prolonged period, Billari et al., 2003), which in some areas 1 has reached and maintained scarcely imaginable levels for years on end. Conversely, other areas of Europe, where fertility started to fall many d- ades earlier than in the regions of the sourth, have recovered or maintained considerably higher levels of fertility, often close to replacement level.
The first devoted to analyse and interpret the lowest low fertility in the Southern part of Europe, adopting a comparative viewpoint, with a particular emphasis on the cultural keywordsOffers a clear view on the peculiarity of a demographic situation characterizing a vast part of Europe during the last three decades