Fertility Drain or Fertility Gain?

The Effect of Emigration on Fertility in Italian Provinces during the Great Recession

23rd May 2019
Versione stampabile

Venue: Department of Sociology and Social Research, via Verdi, 26 - Trento,  Meeting Room – Third floor
Time: 12:00 - 14:00

Brown bag seminars - Organized by the Center for Social Inequality Studies (CSIS) research unit


  • Nicoletta Balbo, Università Bocconi Milano


The present paper aims at uncovering whether the sharp increase in out-migration from Italy during the years of the Great Recession (2009-2014) had any impact on Italian fertility. Specifically, we investigate how self-selection into out-migration of people emigrating from Italy during the recent economic crisis affected fertility in the area of origin of emigrants. We exploit the richness of the Administrative Registry of Italians Residing Abroad (AIRE), that collects information about all Italian citizens moving their residence abroad, as well as the Italian birth records at the province level. Using an instrumental variable approach, that allows to overcome the endogeneity issues in the fertility-migration relationship, we find a positive impact of emigration on fertility at the Italian province level. This result suggests that emigrants are selected among those individuals who have a lower risk of having children. Such positive effect of out-migration on fertility in the area of origin could partially counteract the negative effect of increasing unemployment on fertility, thereby leading to an underestimation of the effect of the economic crisis on fertility.


Nicoletta Balbo is Assistant professor in Sociology at the Policy Analysis and Public Management Department and Research Fellow at the DONDENA Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy. She obtained a PhD in Sociology from the University of Groningen. Her research interests focus on the sociology of the family (life course, fertility decision-making), social and personal networks, subjective well-being and health behaviours among young people.