The Reproductive Paradox of a "Strong Family" Society: The Case of Low Fertility in Italy - Fertility rates are below replacement level in most industrialised countries. There are, however, substantial cross-country differences. On the basis of an ample demographic and sociological literature and of comparative data, the author argues that the Southern European countries, and particularly Italy, present a specific constellation of all the elements which are nowadays associated with low fertility: delay in the formation of new families, persistent gender asymmetries in
practice but also partly in legislation, strong reliance on intergenerational solidarity in the face of a residualistic Welfare State. All these elements combine to reduce the options open to the young and subject women of all ages to considerable tension. (Non-) decisions on fertility are a way of dealing with these constraints and tensions.