Battle for Births: The Fascist Pronatalist Campaign in Italy 1925 to 1938



The battle for births took place during the inter-war years of 1925 to 1938. The demographic campaign promoted fecunditá, especially within the working class, by increasing welfare benefits, legislating tax breaks, making available better health care, and awarding highly public medals and recognition to those women who produced more than the state's target of five children per family. The regime associated motherhood, children, family, and virility with maintaining national greatness. In spite of all the mass propaganda, mobilization, and state incentives to increase the birthrate, the battle for births had failed by 1938. This article compares and contrasts key economic, regional, political, cultural, and religious explanations for the failure of Italian pronatalism. Although the battle for births failed to produce an overall increase in the Italian birth rates, it did succeed in other ways.