The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - June 23

Italians think their young folk should leave the comfort of the family nest much sooner than they actually do, according to a new survey.

Asked to name the best age to leave home, a sample of adult Italians from 19,000 families produced answers which averaged out at 25.2 for men and 25.8 for women. This finding, part of wider research into the family carried out by national statistics bureau Istat, was surprising because it contradicted the statistics on what actually happens in Italian families. Several recent surveys have shown that half of young Italians are still living with their parents at 30 and many continue to do so for several years, often until marriage.

Istat gave no explanation for this discrepancy. But some of the other findings of the survey offered clues, indicating that for much of the population leaving home at 25 would be good but money worries make it impractical.

Asked about what impact leaving home would have on their lives, 51.5% of young adults (aged 19-39) said it would be good for personal independence and 44.2% said it would be good for their sex lives. Significantly, however, 42.7% said it would be bad from an economic point of view.

Defenders of the live-at-home Italians cite economic uncertainty, difficulties finding jobs and a scarsity of cheap accommodation. Istat found in fact that feelings of financial insecurity were common among young Italians. They also tend not to trust people they do not know. Istat's study of the Italian family also found that divorces and separations continue to rise gradually, as they have for several years, demonstrating the Catholic Church's waning influence.

In line with this, the study also found that living together is widely accepted as an alternative to marriage.