Family Formation under Uncertainty: The Role of Narratives of the Future during the COVID-19 Pandemic

FBK-IRVAPP is pleased to invite you to the following seminar: Family Formation under Uncertainty: The Role of Narratives of the Future during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

With the participation of Raffaele Guetto

Language The seminar is held in English.

Abstract The generalized and relatively homogeneous fertility decline across European countries in the aftermath of the Great Recession poses serious challenges to our knowledge of contemporary low fertility patterns. The rise of economic uncertainty has often been identified, in the sociological and demographic literatures, as the main cause of this state of affair. The forces of uncertainty have been traditionally operationalized through objective indicators of individuals’ actual and past labor market situation – the “shadow of the past”. However, uncertainty primarily means a lack of clarity about future prospects. Rising uncertainty in contemporary societies, thus, necessitates an analytical framework that acknowledges the influence of the future in the fertility decision-making process. Based on the Narrative Framework, we argue that personal narratives of the future, and their constitutive elements of expectations and imaginaries – the “shadow of the future” – represent crucial drivers of fertility intentions under conditions of uncertainty. Our arguments are tested empirically by exploiting the exogenous uncertainty shock provided by the COVID-19 pandemic, and unique data we collected during the Italian lockdown. Results suggest that, because of COVID-induced uncertainty, subjective perceptions and personal narratives of the future – also shaped by media-channeled narratives – gain the upper hand over the shadow of the past in influencing fertility intentions. In addition, we provide evidence of a causal impact of narratives of the future on fertility intentions through an online experiment simulating a “real” exposition of the respondents to a new media narrative on the expected length of the emergency.

The seminar will be held on the web conference platform Google meet.


  • Raffaele Guetto
    Raffaele Guetto, Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Research, is tenure-track Assistant Professor of Demography at the University of Florence (Italy), where he teaches Demography, Social Demography and Longitudinal Data Analysis. He is a member, among others, of the International Sociological Association and of the Italian Association for Population Studies. He organized and has been part of the Scientific Committee of several international conferences. His research interests include social demography, immigrant integration, and social stratification and inequality. On these topics, he published several articles in international peer-reviewed journals such as the European Sociological Review, Acta Sociologica, European Journal of Population, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, International Migration Review.


Registration to this event is mandatory.

Registration closed on 10/12/2020.

The registration is free of charge. You will receive an invitation through google calendar the day before the seminar to facilitate the access to the virtual room.

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