Are cohabiting couples "better" parents than the married ones? Evidence from the Italian Time Use Survey

Maria-Letizia Tanturri, Università di Padova
Silvia Meggiolaro, Università di Padova

The process of union formation and, consequently, the context of childrearing has deeply changed in Italy in the last decades. The increase in non-marital cohabitation has been accompanied by an impressive spread of out-of wedlock births. The possible consequences of these changes on gender roles set within couples are quite unknown in this country. Moreover, there is no clear evidence whether (and how) Italian married and unmarried parents differ in childrearing practices. In this paper, we aim to verify whether a more egalitarian gender roles set is found among childless cohabiting couples in Italy and if this is true also for those having a pre-school child. The use of the most recent data, of the Italian time Use Survey (2008-09) allows to obtain an up-date picture of the Italian context. Our analysis shows that cohabiting women reduce the time devoted to housework compared to the married ones, while for men no significant differences are observed, net to the other characteristics (such as education, employment status, area of residence, economic situation). Unexpectedly, both cohabiting men and women seem to dedicate more time to childcare, than the married parents, ceteris paribus.

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Presented in Session 74: Trends, determinants and patterns of cohabitation