In A Decade Amid Economic Slumps, Italy’s Poor Almost Tripled

As Italy went through a double-dip, record-long recession, the number of Italians living below the level of absolute poverty almost tripled over the last decade.

National statistics agency Istat said that up from almost 1.7 million in 2006, the absolute poor, or those unable to purchase a basket of necessary goods and services, reached 4.7 million last year. And with many of such people residing on absolute poverty concentrated in the nation’s southern regions that is 7.9 percent of the population. , to

More than a quarter of Italy’s industrial production was wiped out as the nation went through its deepest, and then its longest, recession since World War II between 2008 and 2013. And compounding the problem was a rising rate of unemployment as it rose from a low of 5.7 percent in 2007 as high as 13 percent in 2014 over the same period which accentuated the poverty problems further. When it was last checked in the month of May this year, the rate of unemployment in the country was at 11.3 percent.

And compounding the problem was the rate of fertility. Compared with a 1.58 average across the 28-nation European union as of 2015, which was the last year for which comparable data are available, Italy had just 1.35 children per woman. This problem of fertility had gripped the country for decades now and nothing substantial has bene done about it.

“The poverty report shows how it is pointless to wonder why there are fewer newborn in Italy,” said Gigi De Palo, head of Italy’s Forum of Family Associations. “Making a child means becoming poor, it seems like in Italy children are not seen as a common good.”

And reaching 10 percent in the group of those between 18 and 34 years old, the number of absolute poor rose last year in the younger-age classes. The Istat report also showed that it fell among seniors to 3.8 percent in the age group of 65 and older.

Replacing the existing income-support measures, a new anti-poverty tool called inclusion income was approved by the Rome-based parliament earlier this year. Il Sole 24 Ore daily reported, citing parliamentary documents that it will benefit 400,000 households, for a total of 1.7 million people. Sole also said that the financials for the program would increase to nearly 2.2 billion euros in 2018, from around 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) this year. The program will be funded with resources obtained by the government.

Also rising last years was the incidence in Italy of relative poverty, which is calculated on the basis of the average consumption expenditure. This index showed that it had affected a larger group of people.

Istat said that with a higher incidence in the households with a bigger number of children and in the groups below the age of 34 years old, poor individuals in relative terms were almost 8.5 million or 14 percent of the population.

(Adapted from Bloomberg)

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Categories: Economy & Finance, Geopolitics

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