One in ten Italians aged 18 to 34 lives in extreme poverty, according to Catholic charity Caritas, which says that it has seen an alarming rise in the number of young people relying on its centres for food, shelter and clothing.
The rate of poverty among millennial Italians has gone from just under 2 percent ten years ago to around 10 percent today, while among over-65s it fell from slightly from just below 5 percent to around 4 percent.
In addition, more than 1.2 million minors also live in absolute poverty in Italy.
“If in the years before the economic crisis the most disadvantaged age group was the elderly, since around five years it is the young and very young whose situation is most critical, decidedly more alarming than that of over-65s a decade ago,” the charity’s ‘Future Past’ report said.
Even young people who aren’t in dire straits are worse off than older generations, the numbers show: average income of 18 to 34-year-olds’ households is less than half what it was in 1995, while in the same period, over-65s have seen their average household income increase by around 60 percent.
Since the 2008 crisis, Italy has seen its youth unemployment figures spike. It has a higher rate of young people not in education, employment or training than any other country in the European Union.
Over the same period the number of young people leaving Italy has increased sharply, while thousands of migrants and refugees – many of them young men – have arrived.
But Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, secretary-general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, warned against assuming that poverty was limited to immigrants, urging Italian society to open its eyes to “extraordinary and extraordinarily negative poverty... a poverty not just of material means, but the even greater poverty of not being able to plan your own future and create your own alternatives to a life of dependence”.
In total 205,090 people turned to Caritas shelters for help in 2016, just over 22 percent of them aged between 18 and 34.