Sartor, N., Cozzolino M., Declich C., Polin V. and Roveda A. (2003).

Intra-generational distribution across families: what do generational accounts tell us?. Welfare, Intergenerational Distribution and Households, ENEPRI «Occasional Paper», n. 2



In recent years, the Italian debate on fiscal and social policies toward families has focussed on the issue of dependants for two important reasons. The first one is related to the sharp and persistent decline of the fertility rate. Fertility decline is partly responsible for the increase in the old-age dependency ratio. This, in turn, is causing a significant deterioration of the public finance outlook for the next decades. As a consequence, the highly questionable issue about the desirability and effectiveness of demographic policies is surfacing again in the political debate. The second reason is related to poverty, as the likelihood of belonging to a poor family significantly increases with the number of dependants. According to recent estimates by an ad-hoc Commission 2, in year 2000 the relative poverty rate amounts to 12.3 per cent among all Italian families. The ratio increases to 15.1 per cent if there is at least one dependant aged less than 18 and further to 25.8 if the family with young dependants lives in the “Mezzogiorno”. The last two rates increase respectively to 25.5 (nationwide) and 33.7 (Mezzogiorno) per cent for families with three or more children. As for the demographic issue, Italy is experiencing one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. Total fertility is below replacement since the late seventies and has reached in 1995 its lowest value (1.18). Currently, Italy is second to Spain (1.22 and 1.15 respectively). Completed cohort fertility rates show a steady decline from 2.1 for women born in 1944 to 1.6 for the 1963 cohort. At the same time, life expectancy at birth has increased by 22 years over the last 60 years 3. As one would expect, net 1 N. Sartor, V. Polin and A. Roveda: University of Verona, Italy. C. Azzarri, M. Cozzolino and C. Declich: Institute for Economic Studies and Analysis (ISAE), Rome, Italy. The research project is partly financed by ISAE and partly benefits from a Ministerial grant (“Ricerca MURST 2000”), being part of the larger research project on “Low fertility in Italy: between economic constraints and value changes”. Authors thank Rita Di Biase, Aldo Gandiglio (ISAE), Roberto Prisco (University of Verona) for their support, and Roberto Cardarelli for his useful suggestions. Comments are welcome and can be addressed to N. Sartor, Dipartimento di Diritto dell’Economia, via dell’Artigliere, 19, 37129 Verona (Italy); e-mail: 2 The Commission on social exclusion, appointed by the Minister of Labour. See Commissione d’indagine sull’esclusione sociale (2001, tab. II-1,2). 3 From 54 in 1930 to 74 in 1993 for men, and from 56 to 81 for women.