Break away from home and get a tax break is what Italy’s Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa has promised the country’s men in their 20s and 30s who prefer to hover around in the parental nest. That men in Italy are happily tied to their mama’s apron strings is old news. But the government’s growing concern over the phenomenon has pushed the minister to make a unique offer — a generous 1,000 euro tax break for 20- and 30-somethings who rent a flat away from mama’s.
Such motherly concern over a matter so umbilically entwined cannot be brushed aside. After all, economists (who clearly don’t live with mama nor want to) have beamed a mother lode of signals that almost 60 per cent of young adult Italians stayed at home, were not marrying or having children. That means that the mammonis (Italian, not Bengali, for mama’s boys) are literally here to stay. An earlier study, in 2005, had the world tightening its umbilical cord (except for the Bengalis and the Japanese who found it perfectly natural) when it reported that between 1990 and 2000, the rate of men between 30 and 34 years of age still sharing the parental home had risen from 14 per cent to 27 per cent. But no matter how much the political spectrum cringes at the minister’s antidote for Italy’s current economic turmoil, there are no takers for the ‘rent-too-high-so-live-with-mama’ line of thought. After all, only about 18 per cent of women in the same age group want to stay with mama, and they don’t pay less rent than the men. And why, we wonder, did celebrated midfielder Francesco Totti suck his thumb in celebration of goals he’d scored? There’s more to mama mia than the rent.
We suggest a ‘Look East to Indian Men’ policy for our Italian friends. They should do what young Indians do all the time. Hold onto the dolce vita that only mama can offer in her pasta and thick sauce, and pay her the rent as well. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.