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Changes in Italian family life

How the Italian family has changed in the last decades

The traditional big Catholic Italian family with lots of children, leaving home only to marry someone, is a picture of the past.

The traditional Italian family has changed dramatically in the last decades. Marriage, divorce, the habit of living by themselves and the female role in the family are the main factors affected by those changes.

Italy has become one of the European countries with the lowest percentage of marriages celebrated every year. From the 70’s to now the number of marriages has decreased by a half. Moreover, separations and divorces are becoming more popular (apparently almost 4 marriages out of ten end up in court).

The new generation seems reluctant to marry. Young couples live together and have children without the institutionalised eternal love promise.

 Another significant statistic is that, according to Censis (Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali), the number of Italians who live by themselves has increased by 39% in the last ten years while the number of couples with children decreased by 7,1%.

 As a consequence almost 7 million Italians live by themselves.

The increment in the number of people who live alone in the period 2000-2010 covered all age groups. Those living alone aged between 15 and 45 years increased by 66% , while the number of people living alone in the 45-64 years age group increased by 59.9% and the number of elderly living by themselves increased by 19% .

Of course, living alone does not mean being completely isolated, but it still represents a social fragility, since in general, in case of need, we turn to the spouse or partner. The increasing number of elderly people in need of care is going to put the “community welfare” under pressure.

Luckily, according to a survey by Censis, 26.2% of Italians do some form of voluntary work to help elderly people and the disabled.

Things have changed also in domestic life.

 According to Eurispes, (Istituto di Studi Politici, Economici e Sociali) the distribution of housework between men and women has also changed, but not remarkably. The household, for example, is still mainly a female burden. Men do little jobs, like, for example, setting the table or empting the rubbish bin but they are reluctant to do the washing and cleaning the house.

Some reluctance persists also regarding ironing, activity considered inappropriate in the opinion of 14.4% of the sample, interviewed by Eurispes, but considered normal by 40.8% or sometimes necessary by 44.8%.

Although cleaning the house is still considered a task action inappropriate for a man from 11.7% of the sample, also some comforting data are coming out from the survey.

The 85.4​​% of men have developed the idea that education and child care tasks are now being actively carried out by the fathers. 81.2% said that more and more frequently the so-called sex strong take care of household chores without embarrassment, which, according to 67.3%, are distributed equally according to the family needs.

However, despite the help that many give at home, 71.5% of the interviewed men admitted that, in reality, women still carry the bulk of the tasks related to the management of the family.

Finally, 40.1% of men consider that many of the changes that have occurred in recent decades between the domestic walls depend on the fact that women have decided to give up dealing with pots and pans and domestic devices

Giulia Lombardo

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