i Editor's Letter: Living with parents


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Like everything this week, I see David Cameron's threat to force under-25s to live with their parents by removing housing benefit through an Anglo-Italian prism.

The brilliant Deborah Ross might understand the panic this would induce in the British half of my roots. But, by contrast, even among my relatively immediate Italian family, be they in Lazio, London or Boston, "grown-up" children live(d) in the family home until way into their 20s - and in some cases beyond.

It didn't feel abnormal, not when aunts or "nonnas" also lived in the house. In some cases, it lasted so long that financial and other burdens passed from the older to the younger generation.

There is, of course, the Italian mammone ("mummy's boy"), who will not or cannot move out from under mamma's apron strings. It is so common in Italy that 48% of 18 to 49-year-olds still live under the parental roof, and there is much less social stigma. So much so, that last year a Venetian couple took their 41-year-old son to court to force him out.

Last month, the ONS revealed nearly three million British 20 to 34-year-olds (24%) now live with their parents, although this may partly be due to an influx of immigrant cultures.

The difference is that there has been (and still is?) huge social stigma attached to it here in the UK, and its rise is so much less a phenomenon of culture than it is boom and bust. As such, as with any social engineering experiment, there are a host of unintended private problems behind the public statistics.

As ever, if it has happened to you or yours, please let us know.