The effect of parental separation on attitudes of children in Italy

Stefano Mazzuco, Università di Padova
Fausta Ongaro, Università di Padova
Carlo Buzzi, University of Trento
Francesca Sartori, University of Trento

The rapid increase of marital instability that had been observed in Italy in this last decade induces more and more researchers to investigate on this phenomenon and on the consequences it can have on society. Children are the main actors involved in such an event, apart from the separating partners, thus impact of parental separation on children is one important research stream of this topic. From a wide range of literature, we already know that life course and life conditions of children who underwent a parental separation are significantly different from those of children who did not. Albeit large, in such a literature there is lack of information on the impact the parental separation exerts on values, attitudes and norms, i. e. all those immaterial elements which play an important role in determining the identity of young people. Therefore, this work focuses on the consequences of parental separation on these immaterial elements. Two issues are encountered when implementing such an analysis: first, a measurement issue, depending on the abstractness and multi-dimensionality of values, norms and identity of individuals. For this issue a proper dataset collecting information on most of the encapsulated dimensions of individuals' attitudes is needed. The second issue is to single out the real effect of parental separation, netting out the spurious effect of background family characteristics. Here the data from the sixth survey, conducted by IARD Institute, on conditions of young individuals in Italy in 2004 is used. In this survey, respondents are asked on several domains of values, norms, and attitudes providing us with a lot of information on these aspects. Using this data, we try to singe out the effect of parental separation using a propensity score matching technique, which take into account the spurious effect of observed background characteristics.

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Presented in Session 12: Inter-Generational Transmission of Values and Demographic Behaviour