Determinants of marital disruption in Italy: differences and similarities between women and men

Irene Ferro, University of Florence
Silvana Salvini, University of Florence
Daniele Vignoli, University of Florence

In the last decades a high incidence of divorces has been observed in most European countries. In this context, Italian marital instability seems to be an outlier. However, also in Italy, over the last ten years, data showed a progressive rise of divorces. Between 1995 and 2005, the incidence of divorce rose from 80 to 151 divorces per 1000 marriages celebrated in the same year - with an absolute number of divorces rose of 75%. Authors’ previous research demonstrate that the highest-risk life course and socio-economic context in which a marital disruption is developed characterise those women born in the more recent decades, who marry at younger age, reside in the Center and Northern regions of Italy, who have a less traditional view of marriage, who are highly educated, and who are employed. Beside these determinants of women’s marital disruption, we now wonder whether (or not) they are similar to those concerning men. A particular aspect we want to investigate is the role of family size as determinant of marital dissolution. Does the first childbirth emphasise arguments among spouses in unhappy marriages and therefore enlarge the risk of marital breakdown? Or, on the contrary, is it a clear sign of family harmony and well-stabilized relationship with a low dissolution risk? Is the impact of children on marital disruption different according to the birth order? Have family size a different impact on the phenomenon understudy among genders? We will use data stemming from the 2003 multipurpose household survey “Family and Social Subjects”, carried out by the Italian Statistical Office. The analysis will employ even-history techniques.

Presented in Session 42: The Determinants and Consequences of Union Dissolution