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EUROPEAN UNION

Two-thirds of young Italians are still living with their parents

High numbers of young Italians are choosing - or have no other choice - to live at home with their parents, with less than a third of under-35s having flown the nest.

Two-thirds of young Italians are still living with their parents
File photo: anabgd/Depositphotos

67 percent of Italians aged between 18-34 live with their parents, the latest figures from statistics agency Eurostat show, a figure almost 20 points higher than the European average.

Italian men are much more likely to stay in the parental home, accounting for 73 percent of the total.

Only young people in Croatia, Malta and Greece are more likely to live with mum and dad than Italians.

Meanwhile in northern Europe, the vast majority of young adults live independently, the study found.

The number of young people living with their parents is far lower at 19.7 percent in Denmark, 34.3 percent in the UK and 34.5 percent in Germany.

The news that a lot of young Italians still live at home won’t come as a surprise to anyone; the trend is not new, and the number has been rising steadily since 2009.

READ ALSO: Voting with their feet: Young Italians are leaving Italy in huge numbers

Across Europe as a whole, the proportion of youngsters living at home has seen an overall drop since the 2008 recession. But Italy bucks the trend.

And the gap between Italy and the rest of Europe increases among those aged 25-34. Almost 50 percent of Italians in that age bracket still live at home, compared to the 30.6 percent European average.

The figure is 3.2 percent in Denmark, 6 percent in Sweden, 14.9 percent in the United Kingdom, 13.5 percent in France and 17.3 percent in Germany.

While high rates of youth unemployment are a likely cause, Eurostat notes that 40.3 percent of Italian millennials living at home were full-time workers.

Students accounted for 18.8 percent of the total, while 24.3 percent were unemployed.

And, unlike some other European countries, Italy has no housing benefit scheme and there's a lack of affordable housing available in many areas, particularly in cities.

But numerous economists have argued that clingy parents are actually to blame for the high number of young Italian adults living at home, rather than economic factors.

READ ALSO: Why Italy's 'mammoni' will keep staying with mamma


Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

In Italy families are traditionally very close, and Italian parents are famous for doting on their children at any age.

This may help to explain why young Italians are more likely to live with their parents than youngsters in other countries with high youth unemployment, such as Poland and Hungary for example.

However, it’s not uncommon for Italian families to have an arrangement where large family homes are split into apartments, sometimes with separate kitchens and living rooms, for adult children.

“I live with my parents, technically,” said Chiara Forlani, a 33-year-old from Arezzo, Tuscany, who is in the process of starting her own business. “I have the top floor of the house, which has a separate entrance. So we hardly even see each other. I cook for myself except on Sundays.”

“I lived abroad for a few years and then came home, so I can’t afford anything else right now.”

Meanwhile, other young Italians who already have their independence yearn for the comfort of home. Emanuele, a 28 year old firefighter, was sent from his home in Bari to Milan for work and flies home as often as possible. He describes his family as “very close.”

“I'm trying to get a transfer. Being far away from home is difficult for me,” he said. “Family is too important.”

READ ALSO: The real reasons young Italians aren't having kids

MONEY

How much does it cost to raise a child in Italy?

How big is the financial commitment parents have to make in Italy to pay for their offspring’s needs and expenses until they’re grown up and independent? Here's a look at the predicted costs.

How much does it cost to raise a child in Italy?

Family is the bedrock of Italian society, but it’s also an unbalanced economic crutch, propping up children who leave home much later than most of their European counterparts.

Various factors are at play, from a declining birth rate, youth unemployment, being unable to get on the property ladder to young Italians moving abroad in search of better financial opportunities.

It probably comes as little shock, then, that parents in Italy end up forking out huge sums of cash to support their offspring through childhood and early adulthood (and beyond).

Even just up to the age of 18, raising a child in Italy can cost upwards of €320,000, according to data from Italian consumer research body ONF (Osservatorio Nazionale Federconsumatori).

The average spend of raising a child from 0-18 years is €175,642, but it rises in families with high incomes, classed as over €70,000 per year.

READ ALSO: Italian class sizes set to shrink as population falls further

Researchers noted that the cost of bringing up children has jumped up following the effects of the pandemic too: compared to 2018, child-rearing expenses increased by 1.2 percent by 2020.

The decrease in expenditure related to transport due to spending more time at home, as well as those incurred for sports and leisure activities, was not enough to mitigate the increase in costs for housing and utilities, which increased by 12 percent compared to 2018.

Photo by Suzanne Emily O’Connor on Unsplash

Food prices rose by 8 percent compared to 2018 and education and care jumped by 6 percent for the same timeframe.

In fact, Italy ranks as the third most expensive country in the world for raising children, only coming behind South Korea and China, according to data from investment bank JEF.

The pandemic has contributed to extending an already growing phenomenon: the decrease in annual income of Italian households.

Household income dropped by 2.8 percent from 2019 to 2020, the report found, citing data from national statistics agency Istat. It marks a further squeeze for families, especially low-income and single-parent families.

Depending on earnings, the amount needed to bring up a child until the age of 18 varies considerably.

READ ALSO: ‘Kids are adored here’: What being a parent in Italy is really like

A two-parent family with an annual income of €22,500 spends an average of €118,234.15 to bring up a child until the age of 18; for the same type of family but with an average income of €34,000 per year, the total expenditure to bring up a child increases to €175,642.72.

For high-income families, stated as over €70,000 annually, raising a child costs €321,617.36 on average.

The figures mark an increase of around €5,000 for low- and middle-income families, and a much sharper rise of €50,000 for high-income families, compared to ten years ago.

The money gets spent on housing, food, clothing, health, education and ‘other’ categories. The report revealed that the average spend on a child aged 16 years old is almost €11,500 annually, amounting to €955.78 per month.

Almost €2,000 per year gets spent on food, €1,615 goes on transport and communication, €782 goes on clothing and €1,600 goes on education annually, the report found.

They begin small, yet the costs are anything but. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

For the ONF, “these data highlight how, today more than ever, having a child is becoming a luxury reserved for the few, which fewer and fewer Italians are able to afford.”

READ ALSO:

The numbers on supporting children after their 18th birthday are a little hazier, as when children eventually fly the nest varies – but figures from Eurostat show that Italy ranks third in Europe for the average oldest age at which children move out of the parental home, at 30.2 years old.

Only young people from Croatia and Slovakia wait longer to live independently, while the EU average for flying the nest is 26.4 years old.

Even then after eventually leaving home at over 30 years old, it’s not entirely clear how many Italians are fully independent once they get their own address, or whether their parents continue to bankroll their living costs.

Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella sent a message to Italy’s Birth Foundation (Fondazione per la Natalità) in May stating, “The demographic structure of the country suffers from serious imbalances that significantly affect the development of our society.”

In response to worsening economic circumstances, the Italian government has recently pledged to do more to help people have families and reverse Italy’s continuing declining birth rate.

It has introduced the Single Universal Allowance (L’assegno unico e universale), but along with it has dropped various so-called ‘baby bonuses’ that provided lump sums to new parents.

The new allowance is a monthly means-tested benefit for those who have children, or are about to have a child. It is payable from the seventh month of pregnancy until the child reaches the age of 18 or in some cases, 21. For more information on what it is and how to claim it, see here.

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