Does cohabitation provide weaker intergenerational bonds than marriage? A comparison between Italy and the United Kingdom

Tiziana Nazio, Oxford University
Chiara Saraceno, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin fuer Sozialforschung

In this paper we explore whether the increasing emergence of cohabitation instead of or before marriage weakens family ties and intergenerational solidarity as suggested by previous research, based however, on a not clear distinction between different forms of cohabitation. We study the extent to which the partnership form entered by adult children (cohabitation vs. legal marriage) affects the frequency of contacts and visits between them and their parents. With empirical evidence from the Multiscopo survey (2003) for Italy and the British Household Panel Study (2001), we test the hypothesis that marriage might provide a more favourable locus for solidarity, exchange and emotional support between generations than cohabitation, as suggested by the, not well developed, literature. We will test several hypotheses in two countries - the UK and Italy - in which cohabitations are differently developed. We will use multilevel analysis in acknowledgment to the nested nature of family ties.

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Presented in Session 9: Prospects for the family support of older people and their implications