Friday, February 01, 2008

More Young Italians Live at Home

This report from ANSA deals with one of the peculiarities of Italian contemporary society:
(ANSA) - Rome, January 31 - An increasing number of young adult Italians remain with their families because of low wages offered for entry level jobs, according to a new report.
The socio-economic think-tank Isae said that the number of young adults staying home had climbed by 6% in 13 years and today about 75% still lived with their parents.
According to Isae, 68.4% of young adults lived with their parents in 1991 while in 2004 this percentage rose to 74.1%.
In 1991, the think-tank pointed out, first job salaries were 83% of the average national salary, while in 2004 they were only 74%. Last October Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa sparked polemics when he referred to the young adult Italians living at home as ''big babies''.
''Let's get these big babies out of the home,'' the minister told a parliamentary committee in regard to a budget measure to set aside funds to help young adults pay the rent on a place of their own.
''We need to encourage young people to leave home. If they don't, they just stay with their parents, they don't get married and they don't become independent,'' he said.
Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi recently has spoke on the need to improve prospects for young people in regards to both salaries and job security.
''If they expect to have a salary which is lower than in the past and have to battle continually with job insecurity, they will lower their spending permanently,'' he said.
Low salaries and precarious working conditions also prevent young people from leading independent ''adult lives'', Draghi added.
The economic reality of why young adults stay at home is in contrast with the stereotype of young Italians living at home for the comfort and security.
This stereotype was the basis of a successful 2001 French film, Tanguy, about a 28-year-old college graduate who fights his parent's efforts, even in court, to get him out of the family nest.
The film was inspired by a real Italian court case won by a son whose parents tried to force him out of their home.
In Italian marriage vows couples promise to maintain their children until they fulfill their aspirations. This concept is recognised by the country's constitution which does not set a time limit on this obligation.
It's a live issue whether this trend is a cultural or an economic one. One of the interesting canonical implications is the extent to which the traditional Italian mother-son relationship, combined with economic forces keeping young Italian men living with their parents is actually decreasing the capacity of Italian men to consent properly to marriage.


Seraphic Single said...

Hee hee hee! (I write from my parents' house.)

gengulphus said...

Your final sentence is very curious and thought provoking. In what ways can the mother-son relationship and economic forces combine to incapacitate proper consent to marriage? Are they causing imbecility, or exerting duress, or instilling ignorance of the nature of the contract, or what? Are the young men consenting too freely (to escape mama), or showing themselves too reluctant (because they cannot find an adequate replacement)? Do write more fully on this intriguing subject.

Zadok the Roman said...


I'm not a Canon Lawyer, but I'll answer as best I can from various bits and pieces that I've heard.

In extreme (and rare) cases, it's possible for a man to be so attached to his mother that he doesn't have the emotional maturity to contract marriage. This can manifest itself in marrying at the mother's suggestion without due discretion or entering into a marriage without the capacity to form a normal marital bond with his wife.

Milder forms involve situations where the mother's power over the son and his attachment to her make normal married life impossible and the wife is therefore marginalised.

There's exists the term mamismo in Italy to describe the situation where a man is overly-attached to his mother or is too much under her influence.

Now, the number of cases where the relationship between mother and son is such that it produces a lack of ability to consent which actually nullifies a marriage is, I presume, rare. However, one understand that the role of the 'mother in law' is frequently an issue for Italian women, both in their authority to run their home and their place in their husband's affections.

Seraphic Single said...

Well, the short term solution for that is for young Italian women to have their own sons. (One imagines Mama and Moglie duking it out, with Mama shouting, "Get your own sons!")

Of course, since this has been the state of things for some time (and not just in Ireland--I've heard similar things about Ireland, only there it is the neglected husband who complains), perhaps it's time for a new solution.

gengulphus said...

Zadok, thank you so much for the elucidation. I think that I tend to side with Seraphic, it was ever thus. But happily your words have encouraged me to take down Mauriac's Génitrix for a re-read.