Almost one in three in Italy are at risk of poverty or exclusion

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Almost one in three in Italy are at risk of poverty or exclusion
A homeless person shelters from the snow in Milan. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

In 2016, 30 percent of people in Italy – more than 18 million – risked poverty or social exclusion, national statistics agency Istat said on Wednesday.


That represents a slight increase from the year before and keeps Italy well above the European Union average, which is 23.5 percent.

The percentages of people at risk of poverty, people in severe deprivation and people with low work intensity increased across the board last year, Istat said.

The threat of poverty or social exclusion is highest in the south of Italy and its islands, where nearly 47 percent of people live at risk.

The statistics speak to growing inequality in Italy. While average household income rose slightly in 2015 to around €2,500 per month, most of the growth was concentrated in the richest fifth of the population – whose household income was 6.3 times higher than of people in the poorest fifth.

While Italy has returned to growth in the last two years, the 2008 economic crisis and resulting recession have left their mark. Poverty levels have spiked in the past ten years, hitting children and young people the hardest.

Italians feel the divide between rich and poor keenly, according to think tank Censis, which says that uneven recovery from the economic crisis is creating “an Italy of resentment”.

More than 87 percent of working-class Italians say it is difficult to climb the social scale, Censis reported this month, along with 83 percent of the middle class and 71 percent of the affluent.

Earlier this year the government passed a law designed to tackle the worst of Italy’s poverty, including by introducing a new benefit of up to €480 a month for families in need. The first reddito di inclusione – inclusion income – will be paid this month.  


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