Teresa Jurado Guerrero, Manuela Naldini
Is the South so different? Italian and Spanish Families in Comparative Perspective (The International Project on Family Changes and Family Policies)
This paper analyses family changes in Italy and Spain from 1960 to 1990 and contrasts them with different Western European countries. From a cross-national perspective it is often assumed that southern societies display a different division of labour between welfare state, market and family than other Western European societies. On the other hand, Italy and Spain are experiencing serious demographic changes which could affect the role of families in these societies. In the paper we describe changes in the family formation, expansion and shrinking phases as well as changes in the gender division of work in the labour market and the current differences in solidarity relations within kinship. Out of this context we develop a specific southern family model and demonstrate that, despite the extremely rapid family changes, this process does not in all aspects lead to similarities between southern and western families. The most important particularities of the southern family model compared to western societies are the higher degree of cross-generational cohabitation, higher frequency of social contacts and help within kinship, stronger institutionalisation of marriage, lower female employment rate in the formal labour market, lower fertility rates, and more widespread family- and child-oriented attitudes. In addition, relations between generations are seen more in terms of obligations than in terms of individual choice. We consider three factors responsible for the reproduction of the southern family model and for avoiding a further European convergence. We conclude that the specific economic situation, the particularities of social policies and the family culture in Italy and Spain are important barriers to a further individualisation of family relations in these societies.