Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2014

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Angela Thieman-Dino

Second Advisor

Dr. Douglas Bamforth

Third Advisor

Dr. Michela Ardizzoni

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robin Bernstein


This qualitative ethnographic study examines the motivations and influences effecting Italian women’s reproductive decisions. Using a narrative inquiry approach, it focuses on the interviews of ten women from Rome, Italy. This study benefits from the fieldwork and in-person interviews personally gathered in Rome in May 2014. I undertook this project because I was interested in understanding why Italy’s birth rate has declined so dramatically in the past two decades, focusing specifically on women’s perceptions. Though the current research has been approached from the quantitative demographic viewpoint, I hoped to approach my research question from the narrative, descriptive perspective. By speaking to women directly, I was able to discern some specific considerations women take into account when deciding whether to have children. Women’s principle concern was financial stability, which was related to other concerns such as the cost of living, level of workplace support, and changing family structures. I then used these concerns to suggest specific public policy measures to Italy’s National Health Services in the hopes of increasing birth rates and avoiding economic tragedies.