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Economic insecurity and cohabitation strategies in Italy


  • Christin Schröder

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)


A particular aspect of demographic behavior among young people in Italy is postponement of entering first union. High youth unemployment, a tense housing situation, and a passive welfare state are currently creating a precarious economic situation, in which most young adults are unable to choose cohabitation. Thus, not surprisingly, previous studies found evidence that in Italy cohabitation was only a choice for people who were economically independent. Also of interest is that the percentage of informal unions varies to a considerable extent across Italy, showing higher proportions of cohabitation in the more prosperous regions of the North, unlike the South, where informal unions are much less prevalent and the economic system is affected by mismanagement, unemployment, and the informal economy. This suggests an interrelationship between the diffusion of cohabitation and the regional economic situation. In this qualitative study we are particularly interested in the question of how job insecurity affects cohabitation – or more precisely: How are job insecurity and resulting economic shortages related to the hesitant spread of cohabitation in Italy? For our analysis we investigated two different regional settings: Bologna in the North and Cagliari (Sardinia) in the South. Our findings show that, when compared to their counterparts in Cagliari, couples in Bologna benefited from higher opportunities to access at least temporary job contracts. Benefiting also from the availability of parental support during cohabitation, the Bologna couples faced fewer obstacles when deciding on an informal union. In Cagliari, couples were strongly affected by unstable employment conditions; further, the lack of parental approval of cohabitation often led to decreasing economic support, thereby making cohabitation an expensive choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Christin Schröder, 2008. "Economic insecurity and cohabitation strategies in Italy," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2008-004, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2008-004

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sascha Becker & Samuel Bentolila & Ana Fernandes & Andrea Ichino, 2010. "Youth emancipation and perceived job insecurity of parents and children," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(3), pages 1047-1071, June.
    2. Alessandro Rosina & Romina Fraboni, 2004. "Is marriage losing its centrality in Italy?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 11(6), pages 149-172, September.
    3. Pamela Smock & Wendy Manning, 1997. "Cohabiting partners’ economic circumstances and marriage," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 34(3), pages 331-341, August.
    4. Christin Schröder, 2007. "The influence of parents on cohabitation in Italy: insights from two regional contexts," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2007-030, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    5. Arnstein Aassve & Francesco C . Billari & Fausta Ongaro, 2001. "The Impact of Income and Employment Status on Leaving Home: Evidence from the Italian ECHP Sample," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 15(3), pages 501-529, September.
    6. FFF1Francesco NNN1Billari, 2004. "Becoming an Adult in Europe: A Macro(/Micro)-Demographic Perspective," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(2), pages 15-44, April.
    7. Paola Di Giulio & Alessandro Rosina, 2007. "Intergenerational family ties and the diffusion of cohabitation in Italy," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 16(14), pages 441-468, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giuseppe Gabrielli & Jan M. Hoem, 2008. "Italy’s non-negligible cohabitational unions," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2008-019, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

    More about this item


    Italy; cohabitation; economic resources; qualitative methods;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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