Fewer Italian women choosing to have children

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Italian women are choosing to not have children:

Fiorella Fiori took her mother aside years ago to break the news: She planned to never have children. Despite pressure from family and friends, she has stuck to her guns even after marrying.

"I just didn't want children," she said. "The idea is shocking to most of my friends. And my mom keeps on reminding me that I'm 40 and I can't wait forever."

Ms. Fiori, from Sardinia, is part of a trend toward childlessness that is gaining momentum here.

Italy's birthrate has been far below replacement rate for years. But now more couples with precarious jobs, low salaries and a late start together are opting to have no children at all. A quarter of Italian women end their childbearing years without children, compared with 14% in the U.S. and 10% in France.

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The protracted economic crisis has worsened obstacles Italian women have long faced in starting a family -- from lack of child-care centers to less-than-helpful partners. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the rate of childlessness among Italian women born in 1965 -- those turning 50 next year -- is nearly 10 percentage points higher than it is among those born in 1960.

Italy's difficult job market is a leading factor. With unemployment high, many young people can secure nothing but short-term contracts of less than a year. About 60% of those with such work go on to another temporary contract when the first one ends, and one in five remains jobless, according to the statistical institute Istat.

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