August 20, 2004


What is keeping Italian men at home?: Experts warn of population fall as most prefer mamma's cooking (Claudio Lavanga, 8/20/04, NBC News)

For most Italian single men, inviting a girlfriend home is a dangerous affair: If the visit is not planned carefully, they run the big risk of bumping into the other woman in their lives — their mother.

Italian men, in fact, still find it too difficult to cleanly sever the umbilical cord, and end up staying at home with their parents well into their 30s.

Now experts believe that the nationwide Oedipal complex might cause more serious damage than the endless complaints of aspiring wives: men's chronic refusal to move on might be responsible for the drastic decline of Italy’s birth rate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 20, 2004 8:41 PM

I think this is pretty specific to the Italians, and not a Europe-wide phenomenon.

Posted by: Jed Roberts at August 20, 2004 11:20 PM

I don't get it. In many large traditional societies, it is customary for the son to remain at home during his (at least) early married years. This eases the financial burden of making a home and provides a support network for the young couple having babies.

Posted by: JorgeCurioso at August 20, 2004 11:59 PM

Mr. Curioso:


Posted by: oj at August 21, 2004 12:13 AM


Yes, the French kids are out at the beach while their parents cook to death alone in their apartments.

Posted by: oj at August 21, 2004 12:14 AM

So, the right solution is for Italians to lose their moral hangups about marriage, so their kids can shack up and make babies more freely? How about encouraging adulthood by kicking them out of the house, while suggesting that they grow up? Oh, I forgot. Shame is such a retro concept.

Posted by: Dave Sheridan at August 21, 2004 5:24 AM


The Italians think it's very odd for someone to move out of the house without being married--indeed, everyone asks what's wrong with the family if someone does that. Here, we wonder what's wrong with the person who stays at home into his 30s.

Of course Italians were getting married at 18 in the old days.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at August 21, 2004 10:14 AM

Staying with your parents might have a lot of cool advantages, but what happens when Mommy gets old and dies?

What does a parasite do when its host is no more?

Posted by: Ken at August 23, 2004 5:14 PM