Italy is among the OECD countries with both the highest ratios of older persons per worker and
the lowest female participation rates. As the Mediterranean health-care system is based on the crucial
support provided by the fifty year-old women in the family, the two processes are strictly intertwined.
In this paper, the compatibility between the growth of female employment rate and the increase
in the demand for the care of old people is analysed. The number of middle-aged women will diminish
considerably in the next few decades, whereas the non-autonomous old population will grow
exponentially. Some foreseeable scenarios are discussed using both macro-demographic sources and
data from a recent Istat Survey. The empirical evidence emphasizes that adult women find themselves
caught in between the requirements of the labor market on the one hand and family tasks on the
other. Policy implications are finally discussed.