Volume 36 - Article 9 | Pages 281–306  

Age norms, family relationships, and home leaving in Italy

By Marco Tosi

Abstract

Background: Previous research has shown that social norms have an influence on young adults’ life course transitions. However, few studies have explicitly and directly tested the idea that perceived age norms affect the decision to leave the parental home.

Objective: I ask whether normative factors are correlated with the decision to leave the family nest in Italy, and whether this association depends on a system of perceived costs and benefits, parental approval of their children’s decisions, and the quality of parent-child relationships.

Methods: Using the panel component of Family and Social Subjects data (2003 and 2007), logit and multinomial logit models were adopted to analyze the connection between perceived norms and behavior. The Karlson, Holm, and Breen (2012) decomposition method was used to test the relevance of confounding and mediating factors.

Results: The findings show that young adults who consider themselves as too young to leave the parental home are less likely to move out of the family nest in order to marry. The interaction between a ‘stay’ norm, the perceived benefits of leaving home, and parental approval significantly affects the transition to independence.

Contribution: In Italy, decision-making about leaving home and getting married is shaped by age norms concerning extended coresidence. Young adults tend to comply with age norms when they perceive that their decision implies benefits and/or a violation will lead to penalties. Perceived parental disapproval reduces the influence of normative factors on individual actual behaviors, which suggests that young adults adhere to norms that are supported by parents.

Author's Affiliation

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