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Houseviwes in Italy

In 2016, there were 7,338 million housewives in Italy, 518,000 less than 10 years ago. The average age of housewives was 60 years.
Housewives aged 65 and over were more than 3 million (40.9% of the total), 8.5% of housewives were aged under 34.

63.8% of housewives lived in central and southern Italian regions.

74.5% of housewives held as highest educational attainment a lower secondary diploma. In 2012, only 8.8% of housewives attended training courses (non-formal education), 12.9% among housewives aged 18-34.

42.1% of housewives lived in a couple with children, one in four lived in a couple without children and 19.8% lived alone. 560,000 housewives were foreign nationals.

Little more than half of the housewives have never carried out paid work. 73% of housewives aged 15-34 did not look for paid employment for familiar reasons. 600,000 housewives were discouraged and thought they cannot find a job.

The economic
situation of housewives was not good. In 2015, the incidence of absolute poverty was 9.3% (more than 700,000 housewives).

In 2014, 71 billion and 353 million hours of unpaid work for domestic activities, care for children, adults and older people, volunteering, family informal help were carried out in Italy. 41 billion and 794 million hours were the paid work hours estimated in the National Accounts.

Women carried out 50 billion and 694 million hours of unpaid work (71% of the total). Housewives, with 20 billion and 349 million hours, were the subjects who contributed much more to this form of production. The average number of unpaid work hours in a year was 2,539 for housewives, 1,507 for employed females and 826 for men (considering both employed males and unemployed men).

In 2014, UNECE promoted the formation of a Task Force for the drawing up of guidelines for the construction of satellite accounts for family production. Istat has participated in the definition of these guidelines
and intends to experience the estimation of indirect measures of the “economic value” of household production.

In 2014, the couples of parents in which a woman was a housewife aged 25-44 and man worked, were characterized by a high level of asymmetry: 80.3% versus 67.3% of couples where both partners worked. Over time however, asymmetry in family work has been decreasing (it was 89.6% in 1989).

This decrease is related both to a reduction of the time spent for household work by mothers (-47 minutes per day between 1989 and 2014), and to the increase, albeit modest, of the contribution of the fathers (+35 minutes per day).

In 2016, 48.2% of housewives reported “good or very good” at the question “How is your health in general?”. In 2014, 149,000 housewives lost out one or more domestic accidents in the last three months prior to the interview.

17.8% of housewives used Internet. Only 27.3% went to the cinema at least once a year, 30% read at least one book a year; 15% visited
museums and exhibitions. Low levels of consumption were also highlighted for concerts, theaters and reading newspapers.

More than a third of housewives have a high level of satisfaction in their lives. Among the employed females the percentage is 10 points higher (45.1%).

For information

Linda Laura Sabbadini (
phone +39 06 4673.2249
Miria Savioli (
phone +39 06 4673.4841
Istat – National Institute of Statistics
Via Cesare Balbo 16 – Rome 00184 Italy