Social Indicators Research

, Volume 134, Issue 2, pp 547–590 | Cite as

Relational Resources of Individuals Living in Couple: Evidence from an Italian Survey

  • Viviana Amati
  • Silvia Meggiolaro
  • Giulia Rivellini
  • Susanna Zaccarin


The need for support becomes stronger in situations of pressure, uncertainty and overload caused by unfavorable economic, demographic or social circumstances. Especially in countries—such as Italy—where an adequate welfare system is lacking, the individual’s social space can represent a resilience (anti-frailty) tool through the activation of a support network. While the literature has mainly analyzed the support that some vulnerable categories (e.g., elderly and youths) receive from their family, we focus on individuals living in Italy in the first stages of their family life, with the aim of describing their support network. We construct the potential support ego-centered (PSE) network—at partner and couple level—of individuals living in couple using data from the survey “Family and Social Subjects” carried out in Italy in 2009 by the Italian National Statistical Institute. Furthermore, we compare the network typologies detected using two alternative clustering techniques with the objective of finding the partners’ and couples’ network types and verifying whether traditional strong support received by the family persists in Italy and/or whether new kinds of support networks are emerging. Several PSE network typologies, ranging from empty to comprehensive networks, were determined with a fair match between the two procedures. Analysis revealed the importance of friends and neighbors, especially in the North of Italy, to the support of partners and couple as a whole.


Social support Ego-centered support network Italian couples Clustering techniques Potential support ego-centered network typologies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Viviana Amati
    • 1
  • Silvia Meggiolaro
    • 2
  • Giulia Rivellini
    • 3
  • Susanna Zaccarin
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Computer and Information ScienceUniversity of KonstanzConstanceGermany
  2. 2.Department of Statistical SciencesUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Statistical SciencesCatholic UniversityMilanItaly
  4. 4.Department of Economics, Business, Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of TriesteTriesteItaly

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