Informations and abstract
This article illustrates the characteristics of fertility decrease in industrialized countries and critically reviews recent theoretical perspectives and empirical findings in sociology, demography, economy, social psychology and socio-biology. In particular, the discussion is focused on the theory of demographic transition, the theory of the value of children, the perspective which considers the increasing participation of women in the labour market as a crucial factor in explaining fertility, the individual approach to fertility intentions, and the genetic model of fertility behaviour. If we view the Italian case from the standpoint of current scientific debate about fertility decrease in Western countries, special emphasis must be placed on the major ambivalence between traditional and modern values. The result is that fertility choices can hardly conciliate individual intentions and social expectations.