The start of the Family International Monitor. First steps of a long period.

Dr. Georgia Casanova, Operating Coordinator of the investigation

On 6 December 2018, in Rome, the project of a Family International Monitor was launched, promoted by a collaboration between the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute, the International Centre for Family Studies (Cisf) of Milan and by UCAM Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia. The constitution of a new Family International Monitor found its justification in the need to collect qualitative and quantitative information on family, useful for the civil, religious, lay and ecclesiastical institutions. In particular, the Monitor aims at organising and coordinating a careful research on the current condition of family, that highlights its strengths and weaknesses, to later disseminate the results, thus giving a wider resonance to the data collected in the scientific, academic, political-institutional and ecclesiastical world.

The operational plan of 2019-2021 of the Family International Monitor has focused its attention on the topic of family and poverty, by considering the connection between these two elements as a priority at a global level. The fight against poverty, in fact, constitutes one of the priorities at the international level, as it is also evident in the Sustainable Development Goals of the agenda of 2030, promoted by the United Nations, which first of all aim at eradicating all forms of poverty. (These are the contents of the goals: 1. No poverty 2. Zero hunger3. Good health and well-being 4. Educational quality 5. Gender equality 8. Decent work and economic growth 10. Reduced inequalities).

This project specifically wants to highlight the role that the family relationships have when it comes to qualifying the condition of poverty of the persons (as a protective resource, or as an element of vulnerability), as well as the most macro-social dynamics, such as social bonds, extended social cohesion, solidarity of close relationships. The project foresees a first report (2020) on “family and relational poverty”, and a second report on “family and economic and structural poverty” (2021). The study on family and poverty begun in May 2019 with the first International Expert Meeting (Rome, 13-14 May 2019), with the aim of developing two research reports in the two-year period 2020-2021. The investigation begun in 13 nations: Italy, Finland, Spain, Chile, Lebanon, Mexico, Qatar, India, Kenya, Brazil, Haiti, South Africa and Benin, representing the different world contexts, through the collaboration with a network of national focal points, composed by experts and university centres that in every nation collect information starting from a “Country-Sheet” (an homogeneous series of questions for each territorial context, but able to acknowledge the strong heterogeneous elements present in the different countries), with qualitative and quantitative data, coordinated by a central team that acts under the joint responsibility of the three promoters. Furthermore, special attention has been paid to the collection of case studies and life stories, to give space to the “family voice”, instead of relying only on statistical data, which are frequently cold and impersonal. At the end of the drafting of the “national cases”, a comparative report will be written. Precisely in the expert meeting of May 2019, the decisive centrality of the educative challenge in the life of the families emerged, thus introducing in the investigation a special attention to the issue of “educative poverty”. What can the families of these countries tell to others? This is one of the main questions of this research work, that identifies itself firstly as an international dialogue, even before than as an analysis. Great objectives require to work together. It is not a case that this work begun precisely with the Expert Meeting, an occasion to meet and share between the different partners, and with the consequent provision of methodological tools of support such as a common glossary of the words in use, the sharing of a framework of study (sheets, relevant topics, investigation priorities), the hypothesis of structure of the different “Country Reports” and a methodological note on the collection of the material.

The local academic institutions that are partners of the FIM (the list of the institutions involved is available on the website) have been asked to develop a qualitative country report, where the condition of the families in their country is analysed but most of all explained through existing research reports, interviews and individual experiences of good practice. A very demanding work of syntheses and collection, given the different nature of the social and cultural structure of the countries involved. The difficulties have been many and the provision of the individual reports, in some cases, is still in progress. To support this material, which is mostly qualitative and narrative, furthermore, it is in an advanced phase of elaboration the collection of quantitative data deriving from international sources (for ex. World Bank, ONU) that allows to the country profile in accordance with some specific structural aspects that describe the relation between Family and Poverty (relational and economic). Then, a “Structural Country Profile” will be developed, based on more than 100 indicators of 2018 (or of the most recent year available), divided into 8 dimensions:

1. Demography,

2. Health of the population,

3. Family structure,

4. School and education,

5. Income/economy,

6. Commerce/innovation,

7. Work conditions,

8. Specific indicators on poverty

A first version of the Research Report of 2020, on “Family and relational poverty”, will be published within July 2020 in order to continue the debate between the different research teams of the Monitor, thus starting, at the same time, a dialogue with the other national and international bodies interested.

The material will be made available in the digital version (primarily on the website, and it will be organised in four macro-areas: Tools and methodological aspects of the investigation.

The qualitative reports of the different countries: syntheses data and comparative analysis.

“Structural country profiles”. 100 indicators on 8 areas and short descriptive comment. Informative sheets on other documentary/system sources for the observation of data at an international level.

The final Report “Family and relational poverty” will be published in December 2020. From June 2020, furthermore, other activities will be launched to prepare the 2021 Report, focused on “Family and economic-structural poverty”. For more information, contact: