Millions of Italians sliding into poverty, say reports

National statistics agency claims 8.6 million people are in ‘serious economic difficulty’

Italian businessman Marcello Di Finizio displays a banner to protest against austerity measures, on the dome of St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi

Italian businessman Marcello Di Finizio displays a banner to protest against austerity measures, on the dome of St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi

Thu, May 23, 2013, 01:03


Lest anyone had any doubts, two reports in the last two days indicate the devastating impact of recession and austerity in Italy. In its annual report yesterday, national statistics agency ISTAT offers up a scenario of relentlessly negative economic statistics that suggests Italy is headed for some very troubled times.

The agency claims not only that 15 million Italians are feeling the pinch but also that 8.6 million of them are in such “serious economic difficulty” that they have had to stop basic expenditure such as buying meat or heating their homes.

Between 2008 to 2012, the number of unemployed in Italy has risen from 1.69 to 2.74 million, with 53 per cent of the jobless long-term unemployed. Arguably more worrying is the consideration that 38.4 per cent or 635,000 of those in the 15-24 age bracket are unemployed.

In the last year, average disposable income has fallen by 4.8 per cent, partly because average income has fallen by 2.2 per cent. In the same period, the volume of property sales fell by 22.6 per cent, a dramatic collapse in a market that saw property maintain its value through the second World War.

More than 50 per cent of Italians claim they were unable to afford even one week of holidays away from home last year. In such a climate, the results of another economic report, released on Tuesday by Coldiretti, the Italian national farmers’ group, hardly come as a surprise.

It found one 40-year-old in four relies on a subsidy from his/her parents. That figure rises dramatically when the 18-24 age group is assessed, with 89 per cent of them relying on their parents. There is no “dole” in Italy, only a short-term compensation for laid-off industrial workers.