Battle for Births

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Mussolini: Battle for Births
Laura Thompson 12Be
Mussolini wanted women to stay at home and breed good children (preferably
men) so he could build up the population of his great nation Italy from 37
million to 60 million.
He also wanted them to be educated to stay at home to be effective in their role
as the housemother
Women should look plump, not skinny.
Women should not be involved in politics (too far above them)
How was it achieved?
In 1927, battle for births was announced, strict measures in place from 1936.
He tried to provide propaganda campaigns underlining the importance of
He also improved services and provided better healthcare so mothers and their
babies would not die.
Financial rewards such as marriage loans which became unrepayable (no need
to repay) once the family bore 4 children and if there were 10 children in a
family, that household were excused from income tax.
There was an annual ceremony honouring the most breeding mothers.
Punished the bachelors and spinsters by increasing taxation. Divorce was still
illegal in Italy and so was abortion, the use of contraceptives were limited. In
1931, the Penal Code included "crimes against the wholeheartedness and
health of the race". Civil service jobs and promotions were reserved for fathers
As women were pulled out of jobs, more young ladies went to university to
study. 6% of students were women in 1914, whereas by 1938, there were 15%!
Unfortunately, the birth rate decreased instead of increased. In the dates
192125, the birth rates in Italy overall was 29.9 per 1000 inhabitants. In
194145, this had fallen to 19.9. On the plus side however, deaths of infants
under one year per 1000 live births decreased from 130 in 1914 to 106 in
The population rose to about 45 million in 1940, but only got to 47.5 million
in 1950 (12.5 short!)
The average age of marriage rose and marriage rate fell.
In a 1937 official survey of 1000 Roman girls aged 1418 from professional
classes they had `extraordinarily vague ideas' about raising families. They
regarded babies as burdensome and preferred to have only 1 or 2 children,
compared to loads. They studied in order to qualify for a job as they didn't
expect husbands to support them and found housework tiresome. They were

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Mussolini: Battle for Births
Laura Thompson 12Be
uninterested in traditional chores such as sewing and knitting and preferred
going to the movies. Their favourite novels were romances.…read more


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