International literature on individual behavior has shown the importance of the network of relationships binding individuals to the people who are close to them in everyday life. Family and other role relations are important sources of emotional and instrumental support, as well as social companionship. For the Italian scenario, the 2003 Generations and Gender Survey offers some challenges for constructing ego-centered support networks based on reasonable assumptions of the frequency of contacts and residential proximity of respondents with kin, friends and neighbors. Focusing on young Italian adults aged 18-34 years who are single or have a partner, we define two kinds of support networks – the potential support ego network and the effective family network – with the aim of analyzing the effects of network characteristics (size and composition) on the probability of receiving help. Our findings show that couples received more support more often than singles. Although singles' potential support networks were more characterized by no family ties than the ones of partners, the availability of a “comprehensive” network or a network not “encapsulated” only in the family increased the probability of receiving help in both groups. Moreover, gender differences provide evidence of distinct behavior between partners in activating their network for (family) support.
- Family network
- Potential Support Ego Network
- Young adults