The Long Transition to Adulthood in Italy: Parental Help and Youth Autonomy
Department of Social and Political Studies University of Milan Milan, Italy
Italy is one of the European countries with the highest percentage of young people living in the family of origin. Several pieces of research tried to explain this "syndrome of delay" of Italian young people by advancing the influences of structural factors or the specificity of family relations. Certainly, the lack of social policies, the spread of temporary job contracts and an unfavourable housing market are among the greatest obstacles to attain housing independence. In these conditions, the support of the family of origin is essential to overcome the steps of transition to adulthood. Housing independence is achieved with the economic support of parents who are usually ready to help their children when they get married. That is why in Italy marriage is the legitimate event which still today decrees the attainment of housing autonomy and alternative family forms (such as cohabitation) are not widespread. Parents continue to support their children even after they form an independent family by offering them financial help and grandchildren care. Based on the results of a qualitative research carried out among parents and young people living in the family of origin, we tried to reconstruct the exchange patterns between parents and children and the existing reciprocity forms, also considering mutual expectations in terms of family support network on which both generations suppose to rely in the future. Then the research tried to verify how the continuous support by parents could delay the acknowledgement of adult responsibilities and prevent young people's final separation from the family of origin.