This article departs from previous comparative research on Spanish and Italian families and family policies, which focused on their similarities. Here the main thesis affirms that in the last two decades Spain has taken a new path away from the family/kinship model and towards a dual-earner family model. Different cohorts of Italians and Spaniards are compared with respect to their home-leaving behaviour, gender attitudes and their paid and unpaid work patterns. Italian inertia and Spanish changes are interpreted within the context of policies directed at small children, youth, conciliation policies and the frail elderly in order to evidence both countries divergences not only in family patterns but also in family policies. Spain's two-sided change towards a dual-earner family model is further valued in relation to the cases of France and Sweden and to the current economic crisis.