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Euro crisis spurs Italy's 'big baby' boom: grown children living with parents

New research says that a third of adult Italians – and more than 60 percent of young adults – live with their parents. Experts say that hard economic times have exacerbated the cultural phenom.

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Gently mocked as "bamboccioni" – literally, “big babies” – or "mammone" – mama's boys – for their reluctance to fly the nest, Italian adults are living with their parents in huge numbers. 

But it's not simply the warm embrace of the Italian "mamma" that is keeping them at home. The phenomenon has grown in large part due to the current economic crisis in Europe, experts say.

Nearly a third of Italians now live with their parents, according to new research by Coldiretti, a national farmers association, and Censis, a market research firm. Among the 18-to-29-year-old age bracket, the proportion rises to a staggering 61 percent. Of those who do not live at home, 42 percent reside within a 30-minute walk of their parents.

The phenomenon is not new. Like most Mediterranean countries, Italy places a strong emphasis on family solidarity. Mothers still hold a revered role in Italian society, and Italians of all classes and ages maintain strong loyalty to their home regions – a phenomenon known as "campanilismo," defined as "an exaggerated attachment to the customs and traditions of one’s own town."

Young Italians travel much less than their counterparts in Britain, Germany, or Australia; it is rare to encounter Italians among the backpacking crowd doing the rounds of Asia, Africa, and South America, for instance.

But the cultural trend has been accentuated by the current economic crisis – the number of young Italians living at home is up from 48 percent in 1990.


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