New family forms: trends and developments in contemporary Greece

This study presents an overview of the demographic trends and the structure related to the family during the last thirty years in Greece. The data analysis show the importance of the role of the family, the centrality of the institution and its functions, as well as its changes and continuities. Regarding marriage, since 1980s an important decrease in nuptiality and a continuous increase in the age at marriage and the number of divorces is observed. Despite the increase in divorce, marriages continue to have a lower probability of dissolution compared to other European countries. Regarding the private patterns of life, the nuclear family model endures, as the majority of men and women are married and live with their children. Moreover, among couples with young children the dual-career family model constitutes actually the most frequent model. As far as new family forms are concerned, alternative forms of cohabitation, single-parent families, and births out of wedlock continue to remain more marginal practices. One-parent families are estimated at about 10% of all families and at the same time the proportion of one-person households is steadily increasing. However children continue to stay with parents through their late teens and well into adulthood. They move out after they have finished their studies, completed their compulsory military service, and found an «acceptable» and «steady» job. Young girls often leave the parental home only when they get married. Parents also support and help their children in all phases and transitions. Their goal is for their children to attain as much education as possible, especially at the university level, which has long been considered the surest way to upward social mobility. These facts stem from special characteristics and functions of the Greek family and are linked to its child-centredness. Encephalos 2010, 47(2):55-66.

Key words: Nuptiality, marriages, divorce, household structure, family forms, family models, young and adolescents autonomy and departure from parental home.