Leaving Home Sooner or Later: Co-residence and Parent-Adult Child Relations in Italy and Sweden

Tosi, Marco (2016) Leaving Home Sooner or Later: Co-residence and Parent-Adult Child Relations in Italy and Sweden. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


The present dissertation examines whether the heterogeneity of co-residence experiences and the nest-leaving process have consequences for later parent-adult child relationships in Italy and Sweden. Three aspects of intergenerational linkages are analyzed: residential proximity, the frequency of parent-child contact, and the downward flow of economic resources from parents to their adult children. By devoting particular attention to these three dimensions of intergenerational solidarity, the first chapter presents an overview of the literature on parent-adult child relationships and describes long-standing cultural differences between Italy and Sweden. In the second chapter, I ask whether in Italy the time spent in the parental home promotes the frequency of contacts between generations, and whether violating social norms regarding the socially accepted time for leaving home is related to less frequent interactions with parents in later life. The findings show that the longer the time adult children spent in their parents’ home, the higher the propensity to reside near, and maintain frequent interaction with parents in later life is. In addition, spending longer time in the parental home appears to provide much less benefit for Italian daughters than for sons. Age norms appear to prescribe the socially accepted ‘age deadline’ for fulfilling expectations for normal adult development. Considering the reasons for leaving home, marriage continues to be the normative occasion to leave the parental family, particularly among adult daughters, who are subject to greater cultural expectations about family ties. The third chapter devotes particular attention to union dissolution and family conflict during childhood and adolescence as possible mechanisms behind the relationship between nest-leaving processes and later parent-child relationships. The findings reveal that the duration of co-residence is likely to foster family interactions also in Sweden, and this positive relationship is only marginally explained by childhood family experiences. However, late home leavers tend to maintain frequent contacts with parents in part owing to having moved shorter geographical distances, and this is more evident for adult daughters than for sons. In addition, adult daughters who stay at home for longer have more opportunities to form binding relationships with mothers than with fathers. The fourth study aims to extend the findings of the previous two chapters, by analyzing intergenerational financial transfers and using a within-family approach (or a sibling design). The findings show that in Italy and other southern European countries late home leavers are more likely to receive economic support from their parents, compared to their siblings who move out of the family nest at an earlier age. But this effect is completely mediated by the time since leaving the parental home, indicating that parents tend to facilitate the transition to independence of their young adult children. The last chapter discusses the findings in the light of previous research. The results of the present dissertation supports the idea that family members’ life courses are deeply interconnected, and that previous family history has important long-term consequences for later intergenerational relationships. I provide new insights into how co-residence experiences and events in early adulthood shape later family relations throughout the life course.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Sociology and Social Research (within the School in Social Sciences, till the a.y. 2010-11)
PhD Cycle:27
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/08 SOCIOLOGIA DEI PROCESSI CULTURALI E COMUNICATIVI
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/07 SOCIOLOGIA GENERALE
Repository Staff approval on:06 Jun 2016 10:15

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