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Cohabitation in Italy: do parents matter?

Authors
Disciplines
  • Economics
  • Education

Abstract

Over the last two decades, Europe has witnessed the spreading of a new phenomenon: cohabitation. Whereas this modern living arrangement has become relatively widespread in most European countries, it has been rather hesitant in developing in Italy. The welfare state structure of this country, a high rate of unemployment, and tight housing is hampering the diffusion of cohabitation. Researchers so far have assumed that traditionally strong family ties between parents and their adult children have been responsible for the slow spread of extramarital unions. Our research, however, produces different results: There is evidence that the educational degree of the mother influences to a large extent the transition to cohabitation of women in Italy. Using the Indagine longitudinale sulle famiglie italiane (ILFI) of 1997 and 1999, we estimate multiplicative intensity models for the transition to (i) cohabitation as first relationship and (ii) direct marriage of women in Italy. Referring to our findings and to recent research on cohabitation in general, we develop two sets of interview guidelines for semi-structured interviews with cohabiting and married women (who experienced a previous cohabitation) in Italy. The interviews will be conducted in Italian, so the guidelines are in Italian as well. Our first pilot interview indicates that the second demographic transition is more advanced in northern Italy than the current literature would lead one to expect.

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