The Family as Resource of Society

A Comparative Analysis from a Global Perspective

Nowadays, the general debate about family apparently revolves around a crucial question: Is the family founded on a marriage between one man and one woman still a resource for the individual and for society, or is it a bond from the past that hinders individual emancipation and the onset of a freer, happier, and more egalitarian society?[1] Those who affirm the inevitable decline of the family and question its social impact emphasize its constraining, discriminating, and merely private role: Family could actually hinder the human development of the individual, cause injustice and social discrimination between the sexes and generations, and “constrain” people in particularistic and binding relations which do not encourage social solidarity and prosocial behavior. Therefore, family would not produce virtues, be they private or public, but only raise social issues and generate public vices.

The Pontifical Council for the Family has launched an international research project with the aim of ascertaining if family is indeed to be blamed for the loss of social virtues, or if “modernization processes, which have deviated from the traditional meaning and social functions of the family” are to be blamed instead.[2] The core hypothesis of this research project, which was launched in 2011, is that family—considered, in the light of a Relational approach, as a relationship of full and stable reciprocity between the sexes and generations—is still one of the greatest resources for society.

The survey was carried out in eight countries in Europe and America: Italy, Spain, Poland, the U.S.A., Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.[3] The outcomes were presented during the World Meeting of Families in Milan (2012) and Philadelphia (2015), as well as in several papers and books. There have been three main publications: Famiglia risorsa per la società, published in Italy in 2013, and featuring the outcome of the research which was carried out locally; The Conjugal Family: An Irreplaceable Resource for Society, published in 2015 by Libreria Editrice Vaticana in the Famiglia&Vita series, and featuring the outcome of the surveys that were carried out in the U.S., Chile, and Argentina; and La Familia, recurso de la sociedad, published in 2013 by the Instituto de Ciencias para la Familia of the University of Navarra, and featuring the outcome of the survey that was carried out in Spain.

The Aim of the Research

The Relational approach suggests that the family represents a unique relationship, separate from other primary groups for two main reasons: gender difference, which involves sexuality; and obligations between generations, which involve kinship. According to this approach, family ties are a specific, emerging, self-produced relationship, not entirely linked to either individual (i.e. each individual) or collective factors (the relevant social scenarios). Family is thus a specific relational reality, not a mere sum of individual members.

The Relational approach,[4] therefore, postulates the existence of a genome of the family, i.e. a latent structural pattern, which has been present since the origins of history and human civilization, and which can be regarded as universal and cultural.  This structural pattern consists of a dual relationship with unique characteristics, which generates vertical connections between generations and interlaces genealogical ancestries by creating a connection between the male and female genders.

Permeated by a culture of individualization, contemporary man feels free to experiment with new and atypical ways of applying the family genome, which he has inherited from previous generations. This freedom has led to the experimentation with numerous forms of cohabitation, thus living arrangements have multiplied. However, thinking that such experimentations could have produced a morphogenesis of the original structural pattern and that, consequently, family forms could be diverse—and all equally comprised in the idea of family—would be misleading. The truth is rather that different lifestyles have emerged, and they are more or less similar to the familiarpattern, which remains unaltered.

The proposed notion of a genome of the family helps define the constructive substratum of the family, its DNA, its form (from the Greek morphé), which has lasted so far, although in a variety of interpretations in the morphogenetic processes of the family.[5]

Consistently with the original pattern, family can therefore be defined as a social relationship of full reciprocity between the sexes and generations, which cannot be replaced by or mistaken for anything else[6]:

[T]he latent structure conferring family its social identity, i.e. . . . causing the onset of that specific—sui generis—social relationship called family relationship in its truest meaning, consists of the combination of four elements, or factors: gift, reciprocity, generativeness, and sexuality, meant as conjugal love.[7]

Within the family, one experiences and learns free acts of love and gratefulness: Giving is enhanced by gratitude, and can be seen only as an overflow from what has been done when gratitude is experienced.[8] If, on the one hand, family is based on gratitude, on the other hand it is also based on the expectation of a reciprocity that can only exist between individuals who are known to be connected by this specific bond. Reciprocity is the golden rule of a symbolic exchange between genders and generations, an exchange that can be postponed in time, but cannot disappear. The third element of the family relation pattern is generativeness, which is not only expressed by producing offspring, but also in the family’s inherent ability to initiate prosocial actions originating from an overflow. Finally, sexuality, meant as conjugal love, represents a unique and irreplaceable part of the family’s latent structure: It is a well-defined sexual intimacy, characterized by exclusivity and openness to generativeness, and identifying a specific conjugal relationship, which is at the base of the family.

Being a specific relationship, family cannot be limited to a private sphere, but is subject to social functions. Thus family has its very own and specific social citizenship, since it represents a “social figure” that performs specific caring tasks and bears precise responsibilities that can generate well-being for its members and for the collectivity. As such tasks and responsibilities cannot be performed by other social figures, family is the owner of a social right that transcends individual rights. In other words, if family does not carry out its task properly, there are no other “social figures” which can take its place.

Within this shared conceptual framework, the research was aimed not at tackling the current socio-demographic phenomena—which were considered a reference background[9]—but at investigating four distinctive areas in which to observe if, and how, family helps promote and preserve the well-being of individuals and of an entire society. These areas were: the couple relationship; the parental relationship; the relationship with work; and the family’s social capital, i.e. the bonding social capital (the family’s ability to produce relational assets within the family itself) and bridging social capital (the family’s ability to create, promote, or participate in external networks of help, which can be either informal, for instance in the case of neighbors who help each other out, or formal, as in the case of associations or voluntary work).[10]

The survey was carried out by drafting and distributing a questionnaire which translated the aim of the research (Figure 1) into operative questions. The questionnaire contained 40 questions and was divided into seven areas of interest. The first 14 questions were sampling statistical questions defining age, marital status, and socioeconomic status, as well as analyzing political and religious views. One item was devoted to the analysis of the interviewee’s family of origin, and in particular to his/her parents’ marital status. The next four questions investigated the quality of life as a couple and individual satisfaction in relation to that. The following five questions delved into the relationship with children, and in particular the quality of the educational relationship, the transmission of intergenerational values, and the perception of parental self-effectiveness. The survey then extended into the social and working environment in which families live, with five questions investigating the relation between family and work, and in particular the spouses’ preferences and expectations with regard to their commitment to work, the distribution of caring duties, and the reasons behind the need and demand to resort to trade-off measures between family and work. The family’s bonding and bridging social capitals were also investigated. The indicators that were chosen to assess the bonding social capital (two questions) explored the degree of mutuality, that is the ability of family members to help and support other people within and outside the family; furthermore, the acknowledgement of family as a social institution based on heterosexual marriage and open to reproduction was investigated. The indicators that were chosen to assess the bridging social capital (four questions) explored the ability to function as a bridge to the outside world, specifically to non-homogenous social scenarios. The survey ended with a set of questions about the intergenerational transmission of social values within the family (four questions) and trust in institutions (two questions).

The survey was carried out in different periods of time and adopting different methods: In Italy and Spain, the questionnaire was distributed to a statistically representative sample of people in the whole country, whereas in the U.S.A., Chile, and Argentina, it was part of academic surveys. In Brazil, Chile, and, most of all, Argentina, the questionnaire was distributed exclusively among urban-area residents.

Figure 1: The Aim of the Empirical Research

The age range within the sample also varied: In countries where the survey was carried out “independently,” the age range within the sample of interviewees was 30-55 years, hence it identified the cohort which is responsible for the formation and support of family projects and the age range generally referred to as adulthood, especially with regard to biological fertility as a couple and direct involvement in children’s education. In the countries where the questionnaire was included in broader surveys, the age range within the sample of interviewees was 18-60 years, covering the whole age span from the moment in which adulthood is reached to that when people generally retire and their educational responsibilities as parents end.

Even though complete nationwide reports were available, especially in Spain, Italy, and the U.S.A., the analysis of data gathered on an international level showed considerable critical issues.[11] It was nonetheless possible to perform a comparative analysis of what could be defined as cross-cutting trends (see Table 1), i.e. meanings and behaviors emerging within each one of the four topic areas that were identified when creating the questionnaire.

Table 1: The Research in Different Countries—Main Characteristics

Main Results

The main results of the surveys concern the four essential areas characterizing family: marriage, educational relationship with children, trade-off between family and work, and the formation of social capital.

Marriage and life as a couple

In contemporary society, life as a couple and family relationships appear to be playing a decisive role in attaining personal well-being, while, on the other hand, love relationships seem to have assumed more and more precarious forms that differ from marriage. The questionnaire aimed to examine life as a couple in its role as a source/bond and a foundation for family itself.[12]

First of all, the importance of the marital bond in the life of a couple was investigated. Interviewees were asked if marriage, as a very specific bond that cannot be regarded as similar to other living arrangements, is of value today.[13] If we examine the answers that were gathered in six countries (Italy, Spain, the U.S.A., Mexico, Chile, and Brazil), we can see that for over 50% of interviewees the marital bond represents a specific relationship that differs from cohabitation. The only crucial exception is Spain, where the marital bond is apparently not regarded as highly significant by interviewees.[14] We can therefore conclude that for many, the marital bond is still a specific relationship, and an environment in which an individual can achieve personal well-being.

The quality of life as a couple was examined taking into account indicators such as satisfaction, trust, peace of mind, and optimism. In the countries where data were compared (Spain, Poland, and Argentina), these indicators were higher in married couples than in single-parent families or in cohabiting couples.[15]

The research suggests that achieving well-being is related to reaching personal fulfillment, as well as reproductive or oblational goals such as generating and educating offspring and committing to a stable relationship. In Italy and Argentina, the most important goal is committing to a stable relationship; in Spain, all goals are considered equally important; in the U.S.A. the main goal is generating and educating offspring; while in Brazil, it is personal satisfaction. The younger age range and cohabiting couples attach more importance to personal satisfaction, and favor themselves. The importance attached to generating and educating offspring is positively related to marriage and the number of children, as well as to the parents’ individual education: The lower the level of the parents’ school education, the higher the importance they attach to their children’s education within the family environment. Finally, the importance attached to relationship stability is positively related to age (older age range), being married, and religiousness. In other words, relationship stability is regarded as a value among those who profess to be practicing religion and/or to be very religious.

The analysis of results thus emphasizes that the family’s morphogenetic processes are deeply rooted in our contemporary society and lead to a different opinion about marriage, which is not a necessary step in life any more, but just one of several options available. However, this approach does not downplay the intrinsic meaning of wedlock and of its value, which exceeds and is more specific than that of other forms of family. That intrinsic meaning is acknowledged by almost half of interviewees in the eight countries. Moreover, life as a couple still seems firmly connected to stability and child-caring criteria.

We can, therefore, assert that oblational goals for couples are not separated from building personal well-being; on the contrary, in Italy (the only available datum) it turns out that when intergenerational partnership is stronger (i.e. when couples are helped out by grandparents in children’s education), the levels of well-being in the couple are higher. This suggests that family, as a specific relationship between the sexes and generations, can produce relational assets, and consequently well-being.[16]

And we refer not only to relational, but also to economic and social well-being. The research highlights that family is an important factor in protecting weaker individuals—mainly women and children—both physically and psychologically, and in fighting poverty.[17] Surveys carried out in Mexico and the U.S.A. reveal that marriage plays a crucial role in protecting women and children from domestic violence. In Mexico, 7.9% of women who got married in both civil and religious weddings are victims of violence, whereas almost twice as many women (14.5%) who cohabit with their partner are victims of violence.[18] In the U.S.A., child abuse is much lower among children who live with married parents than among children who live with one parent and his/her new partner.[19] Moreover, the analysis of results also emphasizes that within American society conjugal families represent the most financially sound households. According to the Relationships in America survey, which was carried out in the United States in 2014, 7.5% of married people “do not have enough money to cover family expenses every month” compared to 15.6% of cohabiting people; and 12.4% of married people “have received some form of social security” against 29.4% of cohabiting people.[20]

The higher financial stability of conjugal families is also positive if the number of children is analyzed. In Poland, 49% of conjugal families can provide for their needs without incurring debts, a percentage that is four times higher than the national average. In Chile, if the first quintile (poorest) and the fifth quintile (wealthiest) are compared, marriage appears to be a crucial socioeconomic protecting factor: 7.9% of married couples (the percentage drops to 1.5% if both spouses work) fall into the poorest quintile against 14.3% of cohabiting couples (2.3% if both spouses work); 29.6% of conjugal families belong in the wealthiest quintile against 17.4% of cohabiting couples. The Chilean research also showed that women’s employment, in association with a stable marriage, is one of the keys to the economic and social well-being of all family members.

Hence, the conjugal relationship appears to be a bond of specific relational value. If we then interlace the two components that were taken into account, i.e. the financial and relational components, we will easily outline a framework made of different family types (Table 2). The one that can be defined as “strong family” is the result of a combination of financial strength and relational strength, while families with both financial and relational weaknesses appear disadvantaged—these families are based on weak relationships like cohabitation, and their members are precarious workers. This very weak family type, which is the result of a combination of financial weakness and relational weakness, is particularly common in the U.S.A. The other weak family type, which is the result of a combination of relational weakness and financial strength, can be found in Mediterranean Europe countries like Spain and Italy. In these countries, cohabitation and blended families are more common among middle-upper classes and in big cities.

Table 2: Family types according to financial and relational components

The parent–child relationship: between effectiveness and loneliness

According to the vast majority of interviewees in the countries where the survey was carried out, family remains an irreplaceable setting for generating, caring for, and educating children. The answer to the question “Is it the State’s or the parents’ duty to raise children?” was “parents” for 94.1% of interviewees in Spain, 75.2% in Poland, 81.2% in the U.S.A., 73% in Brazil, and 96% in Argentina. Parents find it difficult, though, to perform this duty in one distinctive or universally acknowledged way, not only because of an evolved social environment, but mainly because of the different significance that children have acquired within the family and in their relationship with parents, with “a gradual reduction up to a complete removal, in psychological terms, of the distance between parents and children.”[21] We can conclude that the challenge for contemporary parents is being able to preserve ethical and regulatory aspects, besides emotional aspects, and the drive that leads children to be “different from their parents.”[22] In this educational process, social connections, which are often overlooked but have been investigated in this research, play a prominent role.

The research that was carried out in Italy and Spain showed that the emotional dimension is deemed essential, but involves the need to pass on values and codes of conduct not as mere rules, but by sharing and setting examples through an essentially democratic educational style in which harmony between parents is vital. In this scenario, parents seem to share the perception of their adequate self-effectiveness,[23] especially when they agree on the educational models to be implemented, and depending on their children’s age: The perception of parental self-effectiveness decreases over the first few years and with the onset of adolescence. This datum mirrors the growing difficulty parents face in adapting their educational processes to their children’s age and needs.

One datum is present in several countries, and that is parenting-related stress perception: Raising a child is, generally, more difficult than people thought in Italy (with an average score of 7.1 out of 10), Spain (8.1 out of 10), and Poland (70% of interviewees). Data seem to vary not with the number of children, but rather with socioeconomic status, and in Italy (the only available datum) also with the parent figure: Mothers “suffer” more the stress associated with the transition to maternity. However, this datum does not vary with the age of children. It is interesting to note that mothers show higher levels of stress, but also higher levels of ability to perceive their self-effectiveness,[24] and this goes to confirm that today their role as women and mothers entails multiple responsibilities, inside and outside the family.

The survey showed that the educational relationship is more effective when children live in conjugal families, where the quality of the relationship between the two parents generates higher levels of psychological (as well as material, as mentioned earlier) well-being for children.[25] The data that were gathered in the U.S. survey showed that children whose parents are separated suffer twice as much from emotional distress or behavioral disorders than children living in conjugal, intact families. Moreover, the incidence of attention disorders or other learning disorder diagnoses is significantly higher in children whose parents are separated than in children living in an intact family.[26] In countries where children’s school performance data were taken into account, school performance is on average higher for children whose parents have a stable relationship: In Mexico, the middle school drop-out percentage is 9% for young people living with both parents and 17% for young people living with divorced parents or in single-parent families.[27] The Italian research showed that the transmission of values despite the children’s self-assertion is more complicated, and that the parents’ ability to mediate their social relations is weaker[28] in blended and single-parent families.

Finally, with regard to the intergenerational transmission of values—which is one of the key elements of the parental educational duties—the results were particularly interesting. Parents do not give up passing on a set of values—which can nonetheless vary, often with the family background—to their children. We identified three family backgrounds which differ in their transmission of values. In the first one, common in the U.S. and Poland, parents stated that they had received important ethical and human values. However, the transmission of ethical values is subordinate to the importance of giving children all the tools and skills that are necessary to succeed in a highly competitive social environment. This type of family can be defined as competitive (type 1). There are also optimistic family environments (type 2), i.e. families optimistic about the possibility of an intergenerational transmission of values: These parents stated that they had received solid moral values as a legacy, and feel that they can pass them on to their children. These families can be found in Brazil and Argentina, although it must be pointed out that the intergenerational transmission of values is probably more and more complicated as the socioeconomic level increases. With their similar social backgrounds, Spain and Italy are the two countries where pessimistic family environments (type 3), i.e. pessimistic about the possibility of an intergenerational transmission of values, can be found: Italian and Spanish parents think they received an important set of values from their parents, but also believe that it is quite difficult for them to pass those values on to their children.

The trade-off between family and work

The trade-off between family and work is regarded as an essential area of interest for the family’s well-being and part of the process by which personal, couple, and intergenerational identities are built.[29] In other words, the trade-off between family and work has been analyzed from a Relational perspective.

If forced to choose between family and work, interviewees have stated that they would favor family needs over work needs. If faced with a choice, 69.2% of interviewees in Italy declared they would sacrifice their careers, 82.5% in the U.S.A., 66.4% in Brazil, and as low as 23% in Poland. This is a cross-cutting datum in all the countries where the research was carried out, and varies with gender, marital status, number of children, level of school education, and religiousness: Married women, with 2 or more children, holding a diploma or lower degree and professing to be practicing religion and/or to be very religious are keener on giving up their jobs to devote themselves more to their families.

Therefore, married women with children seem more open to giving up their jobs. However, the Chilean research also showed that women’s employment represents today a key safety factor in preventing poverty: “[F]amilies with two incomes are the most successful. Women’s employment in association with a stable relationship . . . seems to be the most appropriate scenario for the family’s well-being.”[30]

The debate about how to implement a better balance between family and work is still ongoing; the interviewees’ answers seem polarized. Reports in Italy, Spain, and Poland showed that the “ideal” trade-off is when one partner works full-time and the other one works part-time. This is the ideal solution for 38.7% of interviewees in Italy, 45% in Spain, and 50% in Poland. Only 26% of interviewees in Italy, 22% in Spain, and 17% in Poland think that the ideal scenario is when one partner works and the other one stays at home. In the Americas, the situation is different. In the U.S. and Chile, the ideal scenario is the one-income family, in which one person works full-time and the other one looks after the family, for the majority of interviewees, i.e. over 60% in the U.S., and 63% of married interviewees in Chile. However, in these countries we can also note a higher polarity of choices between married people, who expressed a stronger preference for family, and unmarried people with or without children, who stated that work is their top priority.

If we examine the reasons behind attempts to find a trade-off between family and work, three types of reasons can be highlighted: The first one is individualistic (i.e. fulfilling one’s ambitions), the second one is family-oriented (i.e. caring for one’s offspring), and the third one is social (i.e. taking care of relations). In Italy and Spain, the main reason to implement policies for a trade-off between family and work is child care. Family is regarded as more important by 91% of interviewees, with an average score of 8.2 in Italy and 9.1 in Spain. The two other reasons behind attempts to find a trade-off between family and work were given smaller preference: The importance of personal fulfilment gets an average score of 7.7 in Italy and 8 in Spain, while the importance of social relations gets an average score of 7.49 in Italy and 8.6 in Spain.[31]

Family and social capital

Interviewed families showed a good bonding social capital, which could be measured in the questions related to mutual help within the family. In the eight countries where the research was carried out, family members seem capable of conveying mutual trust between them. Furthermore, family comes across as the “safe haven” in periods of adversity.[32] A comparative analysis of data highlights that interfamilial trust is associated with marital status and the number of children. Conjugal families with two or more children show higher interfamilial trust levels compared to cohabiting couples.[33] The survey in Italy showed that this datum is also associated with the ability to provide intergenerational care. In families where grandparents have looked after their grandchildren, the amount of trust is higher, and caring for aged relatives is less perceived as a problem.[34]

We saw that families build solid relationships of well-being, trust, and help within them, and that the more marriage is strong and fecund, the more these relationships are real and are experienced. We also tried to establish if, and to what degree, the social capital which is created within the family is an asset for the entire community, as it helps form social bonds based on trust, openness, and exchange.

The amount of trust created within the family can extend to the neighborhood as well, especially if the family is a married couple with two or more children. In Italy, 54.5% of interviewees answered that they have “sufficient” trust in their neighbors, in the U.S. 41%, in Argentina 78%, in Spain over 50%. The same positive correlation can be observed for the involvement in association and volunteering activities. Such positive correlation between social involvement, marital status, and number of children represents a cross-cutting datum, which is also highly significant and reveals that children are a “relational capital.” Generating offspring creates trust relations locally with other families, the school and other reference institutions, sports associations, and the religious community.

The acknowledgment of family within society

According to many interviewees, family transcends the private sphere, and can and must be considered a social figure: 45.2% of families in Italy, 59% in Spain, 80% in Poland, 77.5% in Brazil, and 89% in Argentina agree with this statement. There is only one separate datum from the U.S. survey: 51.2% of married couples think that family is an asset for the whole society, compared to 39.4% of common-law couples. For this item too answers vary with marital status and age. Married people who are 40 years old and older are much keener on regarding family as an asset to the entire society.

Though in its various forms, family is still regarded as an asset not only to the individual, but also to the whole society. The widespread and shared vision is hence that family represents a crucial element in the creation not only of one’s own well-being/happiness, but also in the well-being/happiness of society. Against a generalized decline in people’s trust in the political and economic establishment, family is one of the very few institutions which people can still trust everywhere.

This research, therefore, highlights that family is at the center not only of expectations, but also of people’s lives and everyday life, and is committed to building stable relationships and educating children (as best as it can), thus creating a shared trust on which society is founded.


The survey points out that among the interviewees, the majority views the conjugal family as an objective. In particular, conjugal families with children seem to represent a real resource for society from both an economic and a social standpoint, leading to a higher psychological and economic well-being for both adults and children, and to stronger bonds and trustful connections within the local community and territory.

Hence, family not only fulfills its signature caring duties, but it also creates additional assets, which, despite being the foundation of social coexistence, are not instantly apparent and thus quantifiable (the so-called intangibles). Up until now, this aspect of families, i.e. their inner richness, has been denied and not valued. To this effect, a globalized society will only find a future for civilization in so far as it will be capable of promoting a family culture that rethinks family as a vital link between private and public happiness. Or else it will sail smoothly into a globalization of loneliness and indifference.[35] 

Giovanna Rossi & Sara Mazzucchelli

Dr. Giovanna Rossi is director of The Catholic University Centre for Family Studies and Research and professor of sociology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. Dr. Sara Mazzucchelli is professor of psychology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.

[1]     Mons. Carlos Simon Vazquez, Under-Secretary of The Pontifical Council for the Family, “Family Resource of Society,” 2015, available at

[2]     Pierpaolo Donati, ed., Famiglia risorsa della società (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2012), 15.

[3]     The survey was coordinated in Italy by Prof. Pierpaolo Donati, University of Bologna; in Spain by Prof. Carolina Montoro Gurich, University of Navarra; in Poland by Prof. Wiesław Bokajło and Prof. Jerzy Koperek, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin; in the United States by Prof. Donald Paul Sullins, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.; in Mexico by Dr. Fernando Pliego Carrasco and Prof. Maite Lot, National Autonomous University of Mexico—UNAM; in Brazil by Giancarlo Petrini and Miriã Alcântara; in Chile by Prof. Eduardo Valenzuela, The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile; in Argentina by Prof. Beatriz Balian de Tagtachian, The Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.

[4]     Pierpaolo Donati, Relazione familiare: la prospettiva sociologica,” Le parole della famiglia, eds. Eugenia Scabini & Giovanna Rossi (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 2006), 47-76.

[5]     Margaret S. Archer, “Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). 

[6]     Pierpaolo Donati, “Manuale di sociologia della famiglia” (Bari: Laterza, 2006). 

[7]     Ibid., 58.

[8]     Michael E. McCollough et al., “Is Gratitude a Moral Effect?”, Psychological Bulletin 127.2 (2001): 249-66.

[9]     W. Bradford Wilcox & Laurie De Rose, World Family Map 2017—Mapping Family Change and Child Well-Being Outcomes (New York-Barcelona: Social Trends Institute, 2017): 1-62, available at

[10]   Pierpaolo Donati, ed., Il costo dei figli. Quale welfare per le famiglie? Ottavo Rapporto Cisf sulla famiglia in Italia (Milano: Franco Angeli, 2010).

[11]   Notably, in some areas, results were shown as percentages over population, in other areas as averages and/or percentages, therefore it was not possible to effectively compare data that were handled in very different ways.

[12]   Pierpaolo Donati & Paul Sullins, “The Conjugal Family: An Irreplaceable Resource for Society” (Roma: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2015): 37-39.

[13]   The question was formulated as follows: “How much do you reckon being married or not being married is important in a love relationship?” On a scale from 1 to 10, the average score in Italy was 6.09, in Spain 4.4, in Mexico 9.4, in Chile 6.38 with an average of 7.35 among married people, in Brazil 5.8. In the U.S. survey, interviewees were asked how much they agreed with the statement “Marriage is an outdated institution”: 66% of interviewees were in disagreement, 24% were neutral, and only 10% were in agreement.

[14]   Carolina Montoro Gurich, ed., La Familia recurso de la sociedad (Pamplona: Instituto de Ciencias para la Familia, 2013), 71-2. 

[15]   Namely, levels of trust, peace of mind, and optimism were measured in the surveys that were carried out in Spain, Poland, and Argentina. All three countries showed higher levels in married couples than in common-law couples. Data on levels of sense of fulfillment in life as a couple are available for Italy and Chile.

[16]   Donati, Famiglia risorsa della società, 184.

[17]   This topic was specifically dealt with in the surveys that were carried out in the U.S.A., Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.

[18]   Fernando Pliego Carrasco & Maite Lot, “Family Culture in Mexico and the Well-Being of the Population,” Pontifical Council on the Family (2012): 19-20, available at

[19]   Donati & Sullins, 76.

[20]   Ibid.

[21]   Eugenia Scabini, “La relazione genitori—figli: quando la coppia è generativa,” in Pierpaolo & Donati, eds., “Famiglia risorsa della società,” 188. 

[22]   Ibid., 189.

[23]   Scabini defines parental self-effectiveness as an indicator of “how much an individual feels capable of performing his/her parental duties.” (See note 21, p. 195.)

[24]   Ibid., 198.

[25]   Scabini, “La relazione genitori—figli: quando la coppia è generativa,” 206; Aurora Bernal & Sonia Rivas, “Relaciones Padres and Hijos,” in Gurich, ed., La familia, recurso de la sociedad, 97.

[26]   5% of children exhibiting undisciplined behavior have separated parents compared to 2% of children from intact families; 8% of children with emotional disturbances and behavioral disorders have separated parents compared to 3% of children from intact families; 4% of children experiencing feelings of fear or sadness or suffering from depression have separated parents compared to 2% of children living in intact families. Cf. Donati & Sullins, 75-6.

[27]   Carrasco & Lot, “Family Culture in Mexico and the Well-Being of the Population,” 11-21.

[28]   Scabini, “La relazione genitori—figli: quando la coppia è generativa,” 206-7.

[29]   Giovanna Rossi, “La relazione famiglia—lavoro: quale conciliazione?” in Donati, ed., Famiglia risorsa della societa, 211-14.

[30]   Eduardo Valenzuela, “The Family as a Resource for Society in Chile,” in Donati & Sullins, 155.

[31]   Giovanna Rossi, “La relazione famiglia—lavoro: quale conciliazione?”, 221-23; Gurich, 146-47.

[32]   The statement “I rely on my family’s help” has recorded an average score of 7.67 in Italy and 8.9 in Spain. 75% of interviewees in Poland, 67% in the U.S.A., 72.1% in Brazil, and 94% in Argentina have answered affirmatively and agree. To the statement “Faced with adversity, I can rely on my family,” 71% of interviewees in the U.S.A. and 72.8% in Brazil have answered affirmatively.

[33]   Trust: In Italy 7.74% of married couples, 6.95% of cohabiting couples; in Spain 9.3% of married couples, 9.1% of cohabiting couples; in the U.S.A. 45% of married couples, 34% of cohabiting couples; in Chile 18% of married couples, 16.5% of cohabiting couples.

[34]   Riccardo Prandini, “Famiglia e capitale sociale,” in Donati, Famiglia risorsa della società, 245-47.

[35]   Mons. Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, “The Family at the Heart of Human Development,” November 2015. His report to the Forum on the Family in Budapest is available at