Friday, March 22, 2013

Tight apron strings or tight economy?

scene from Fellini's Amarcord

Dear Readers,

According to a September 2012 article in the Guardian:

Nearly one third of adult Italians (31%) live with their parents
More than 60% of young adults (18-29 year-olds) live with their parents
Among 30-44 year-olds, over 25% live with their parents
Of those Italians who don't live with their parents, 54% said they lived within short walking distance of their parents

Culture, necessity--or a bit of both? Is la mamma a saviour or a sucker?

What do you think?



  1. Anonymous2:43 PM

    Currently, it's both, given the economic climate. If they're lucky enough to have a job, they can't really live on their own with their paychecks. A few people I know have flatmates, but that's kind of rare. It's hard to blame Mamma in Italy now when unemployment is around 35% for the youngsters. Papaya

  2. Hello there, Papaya!

    I agree that life is expensive here (compounded by unemployment obviously makes it worse)--setting oneself up in an apartment (with 4 year rental contracts etc), setting up the utilities and all the other particulars make things much more difficult.

    And yet, as you point out, it is a cultural thing too. It's expected that families are the safety net, often by providing a roof over one's head. However, I've known grown men with very good jobs and late-model Beamers who've moved back in with mamma after their divorces!

  3. Anonymous12:05 AM

    On the cultural side, I will never understand the 'horror' and 'craziness' in regards to little Niccolo` or little Viola getting a 'little job' at age 16, 18, 20.... a weekend job. However, I can say from my personal experiences with the post-laurea to mid-30's crowd, finding a job is damn hard. Or rather, a job that does not insult one's capabilities and can offer a life outside the family money. If the family won't hold them up when they're down, the state sure won't. Looking for jobs, looking for jobs, looking for's all I ever hear about. And don't get me started on learning about all the ridiculous-yet-true behavior of HR. I've met soooo many young professionals from the south who 'faked' residency in Florence or provincia di FI, Milan, Rome etc because "they'll never call you for a job in Milan if they see you live in Salerno." AND IT'S TRUE. Never mind the uncontrolled internships who don't pay. I was ranting about how France has a mandated minimum wage for all FT stagists, and I was soberly told "Italy does too, but who would know?" after story upon story from friends "joking" that MAYBE after 3 months their shady law offices would at least reimburse their travel expenses. Or how a 'good' period would be at Christmas they'd get 500 euros and so on and so forth. I can't speak for people who have decent jobs and move after divorce, but there are a lot more who don't have that luxury (job, car)...which is fine for me since they come looking for English lessons to get out of Italy, but sad for the country.

    1. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment detailing your experiences. I had no idea such North vs. South stuff was going on in terms of the job market. But I'm sorry to say it doesn't surprise me.

      I agree completely on the sad state of the job market for younger folks. (And I too have heard horrible tales of law internships that are little better than slave labor). It's very distressing, considering that these young people represent Italy's future. The labor market is so rigid, and there is such a sense of entitlement among older (often far less skilled) workers that just doesn't allow room for youthful energy and know-how.

      And yes, the family is the the true welfare state/safety net.

  4. Anonymous11:52 AM

    Hi again. :) To clarify, I am not sure it is a "North vs. South" cultural thing in terms of job selection (although I am sure it probably plays a part) but from what people have told me is HR doesn't expect someone to "really" come all that way for an interview or "really" move for the job (??!??!), so they just eliminate people outside a certain radius. Their CVs say they went to school in Catania, Napoli, etc but it's better if they are able to use an address of a friend or family member 'up north' where they are job hunting. sigh. Thanks as usual for a thought provoking post!

    1. Thanks for clarifying... interesting. So it seems even HR thinks that the cultural pull of having family close at hand is too strong to resist! ;-)

  5. Anonymous1:03 PM

    Campo, quite honestly, if I could, I'd move in with my parents right now. I guess I'm from the other side of the tracks, as I don't know any rich divorced men living with Mommy. Those boys need a swift kick. Everybody else who I pegged as a Mammone is off the hook right now until Italy can get it's booty together. xopapaya

    1. I hear you, Papaya. Things are very tough in Italy right now. I don't disdain parental help when truly needed; I certainly hope to be in a position to do that for my children one day, in some capacity.

      As mentioned in the comments above, young people in particular are hit hard, and really what else can they do but live at home? As in the documentary Girlfriend in a Coma, many do chafe at this forced necessity and go abroad. Sigh.


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