During the last decades, since the mid-1970s, marriage has lost much of its centrality in Southern European Countries, such as Italy and Spain. However, the general incidence of consensual unions and marital disruption is still low compared to general European standards. Some scholars argue that the long tradition of a rigid familistic system in such countries will lay the phenomenon at very low levels. But our results reject a static picture of the Italian context and, despite persisting geographical differences, they confirm a rising breaking-down of marriage. Overall, our work places Italy at a crucial stage, in which the trends indicate a strong increase in divorce and consensual unions, and the new behaviours are no longer confined to certain trendsetters. Spain and Italy seem to be moving together in the European context.


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