Proximity between Adult Children and Their Mothers: A European Comparison

Francesca Michielin, University of Amsterdam
Fabio Bordignon, Università degli studi di Urbano

We analyze proximity levels between adult children and their mothers in 5 European countries: Italy, France, Germany, Hungary and Czech Republic. Differences among countries might be the result of different mechanisms: on the one hand modernization, and the availability of more income, might have decreased the needs of proximity, in some countries more than in others; on the other hand different historical background and family ties might be still reflected in geographical dispersions of family networks. To try to see which of the two alternative backgrounds is more helpful, we analyzed data collected in July 2005 by LaPolis and Fondazione-Nord-Est. Our results clearly support the historical hypothesis as a useful tool for explaining differences in proximity levels among countries. The modernization hypothesis works better in explaining individual differences within each country, since the most secularized people and those residing in big cities live at a higher distance from their mother. However, in Italy and in the East European countries these differences are relatively small.

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Presented in Poster Session 3