Educational Poverty in Italy
People tend to associate educational poverty with less developed nations. Although Italy is a developed country, according to research in 2006, the education level among Italians ranked as one of the lowest among the OECD countries: average Italian adults only attained just over 10 years of education. The situation remains similar after a decade — according to the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Italy’s “attainment rates in upper secondary and tertiary education” did not reach the OECD average. The figures suggest that educational poverty in Italy is a pressing issue because it directly contributes to and accentuates poverty among the population, in particular, among children. Understanding the urgency of tackling educational poverty in Italy, the Italian branch of the international organization Save the Children partnered with an Italian banking group, Credem, to strengthen educational development among disadvantaged children.

Child Poverty and Educational Poverty

Child poverty and educational deficiency have an intricate relationship. In 2021, about 1.3 million children in Italy lived in conditions of absolute poverty, according to the Italian National Institute of Statistics.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated educational poverty in Italy due to a lack of technology to access remote education. According to UNICEF, in a survey of 1,028 families conducted during the lockdown in Italy in June 2020, about 27% of households did not have access to “suitable technology” and about 30% of parents reported a lack of time to “support their children with remote learning” due to work and other responsibilities. Across the world, this inaccessibility and disruptions to education have caused learning losses among children.

Without an education, children are unable to attain the skills and knowledge required to access higher-paying, skilled jobs, meaning cycles of poverty continue.

Credem explains that child poverty severely affects “the educational development of many children and adolescents: it compromises their performances at school, reduces their ability to learn and develop skills, talents and aspirations and deprives them of sources of stimulation.” This impacts both their mental and physical well-being, social abilities and future opportunities.

Save the Children Italia and Credem

In 2014, Save the Children Italia launched a project called “Illuminiano il futuro,” meaning “They light up the future.” In collaboration with Credem, a local bank group that had been in partnership with the organization for more than a decade at the time, the two-part project targeted impoverished children in Italy between the ages of 6 and 16. The two parts consisted of:

  1. An individually personalized program, “Dote Educativa.” This strategy “consists of providing children that live in extreme poverty with personalized educational tools and services according to their age and specific requirements.” This includes financing for the purchase of essential education supplies and resources, funding to cover transport costs and extracurricular activities plus access to computers and the internet. Additionally, children would receive extra education support from volunteers.
  2. A community-regional program, “Punto Luce.” These are centers for socio-educational purposes. With 23 centers in 18 cities in Italy, the volunteer-run centers provide parents and children with essential services. For example, homework support, workshops, technology training, educational sessions for parents and more. Gradually, the centers became a crucial part of the children’s lives, allowing them to discover their interests and potential. In turn, some students who had considered leaving school began to understand the importance of studying and decided to continue their education.

Every country has social issues. In Italy, educational poverty is one. The lack of education among the population also reveals the increasing child poverty in the country. In fact, the two have an inseparable relationship. Understanding that children are the future of Italy, Save the Children Italia and Credem worked together to tackle the issue. By setting up socio-educational centers across Italy, Save the Children and Credem encouraged children to believe in themselves and their futures.

– Mimosa Ngai
Photo: Flickr

Inflation in Italy
Inflation has been surging worldwide, especially hitting hard Italy. Already facing economic stagnation and record unemployment, the supply chain halt and economic crisis that the Russia-Ukraine crisis has particularly impacted Italy. In fact, inflation in Italy has risen so dramatically that the main industry lobby is warning of an “economic earthquake.”

Rising Inflation and the Economic Crisis

Like most of the EU, energy costs have been surging in Italy. Prices have been rising at an annual rate of 38.3%. This is largely due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, as Ukraine had previously supplied most of Europe’s natural gas supply. Inflation in Italy is also at an all-time high in Italy; in fact, Italy has the third-highest inflation rate in the EU. In August 2022, the inflation rate jumped to 9%, likely due to the increase in energy and electricity prices.

Increasing inflation will have ramifications for Italy. Unlike the rest of the EU, Italian wages have been stagnant for the past decade. In fact, data that the OECD collected found that Italy was the only country in the EU where wages actually declined.

Moreover, unemployment is also at an all-time high in Italy. Currently, the unemployment rate is 7.8%, but things are far worse for Italy’s youth, who have an unemployment rate of almost 21.2%. It is the highest youth unemployment rate in the EU. and one can attribute it to poor education and a largely stagnant economy. In fact, the past decade has had the worst economic gain in Italy since 1861. 

Inflation & Poverty

The poor in Italy have felt the brunt of the economic impact caused by rising inflation. The decline of the Italian economy noticeably correlates with a rising poverty rate. Poverty has increased sharply in recent years, largely due to the pandemic. The recent increase in the cost of living has also pushed many people into poverty, with almost a 10th of the Italian population living below the poverty line.

Governmental Action

Although things may look bleak for Italy’s economy, its government has been working to prevent a catastrophe. Recently, the Italian government approved an aid package worth $17.4 billion. This package aims to curbe energy prices to protect families from rising prices. The nation has budgeted around 35 billion euros to reduce the impact of rising energy and electricity prices.

In addition, the government has also extended bonuses to low and middle-income citizens, including migrants, because they are more susceptible to falling into poverty during this economic crisis.

Like many other countries in Europe and around the world, Italy has faced considerable detriment as a country from recent crises like the global pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Despite this, things like the unemployment rate and poverty have still been decreasing according to the most recent estimates. Furthermore, considerable government action has seen to it that Italian citizens are protected from rising prices, shielding them from further economic crises.

– Padma Balaji
Photo: Unsplash

UniCredit’s Financial Assistance
There is an impending financial crisis in Italy due to rising energy costs in Europe. Energy costs are causing rising prices and inflation rates, and the Italian bank UniCredit announced in early September that it was initiating up to €8 billion ($9.3 billion) in measures aimed at halting the economic downturn. Along with the promised measures, UniCredit’s financial assistance will offer 400,000 homeowners the opportunity to refinance mortgages.

Rising Energy Prices and Inflation in Italy

UniCredit has taken these steps because Italy is fighting soaring prices and climbing inflation rates. The rising prices are due to the energy crisis tearing through Europe as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Italy is one of the more Russian gas-reliant nations in Europe, second only to Germany. By the end of 2022, it is estimated that Italy will be spending €100 billion ($99.5 billion) on its natural gas imports. Because Italy imports at least three-quarters of its power, the country is likely to suffer economically as the European energy crisis worsens.

The limits Russia has implemented on its oil and natural gas exports have forced nations to pay incredibly high prices for the resources. The limited exports are due to the conflict in Ukraine. Sanctions on Russian oil have caused an overwhelming increase in oil prices. The latest issue to add to the rising oil costs is the closure of Nord Stream 1, one of Russia’s primary pipelines throughout Europe. The reasoning has been that there was a potential leak in the pipeline, but there has been no progress in repairing the leak nor have any estimates been given on its reopening. The closure has left Russia downsizing its exports, resulting in gas prices in Europe increasing by 28%. These increased costs are causing many European currencies to lose value and inflation rates to rise.

Italy’s inflation rate in August had increased by 8.4% over the year before, which marked a 37-year high. Higher inflation tends to lead to less output and production, which Italians have witnessed already. A decrease in output results in a decrease in minimum wages, effectively sliding many workers into poverty. UniCredit is fighting to avoid any increase in Italian poverty, which is why UniCredit’s measures could not have come at a better time.

Mortgage Payments and Poverty in Italy

UniCredit’s financial assistance comes when Italian mortgage rates are rising, with recently established mortgages more expensive than in previous years. Mortgages with variable rates are suffering from the pressures on the housing market and are increasing so companies and banks are able to keep pace with inflation and the market. If homeowners cannot keep pace with the rising rates or high mortgages, they will likely default on their loans, and the banks could repossess their homes.

In 2020, economic activity dropped. As activity decreased, and before the government disbursed subsidies or the economy shifted to work-from-home economic activity, there were fears of being unable to pay one’s mortgage. According to a survey taken in the spring of 2020, 65% said they would probably be alright. However, a third of the respondents said they would definitely or most likely have difficulty paying their mortgages. This fear has not entirely gone away.

Extreme poverty followed many Italians like a shadow due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By mid-2022, 5.6 million Italian people were in absolute poverty. UniCredit’s measures may help to keep that number from increasing.

UniCredit’s Financial Assistance

UniCredit’s issuing of €8 billion in new loans to cover energy costs and pausing payments will allow millions to re-navigate their finances before surging energy bills and new force them into poverty. A three-month break means enough time to properly refinance a mortgage and get it back in order before payments re-commence. UniCredit’s goal is to help its Italian customers navigate the rising inflation and energy costs, keep customers unburdened from their mortgages and keep the economy working smoothly.

Pauses, more formally called “forbearances,” in mortgage payments have several upsides. The critical thing to remember is that even though the payments are temporarily suspended, there is still an obligation to pay the loans. The homeowner does not need to make mortgage payments during the window of the forbearance but must make them later – usually after the closure of the initial mortgage payment window.

UniCredit’s financial assistance is coming at a crucial time, as the limited gas exports and mounting energy bills are beginning to cause panic in Europe. The Italian government has responded by releasing its stimulus packages earlier in 2022 to generate financial stability for its citizens. In conjunction with UniCredit’s work, the two can help keep Italians out of poverty by creating an economic flow that Italy has struggled to achieve since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Higher Education in Italy
Among many other claims to fame, Italy is home to the oldest continually operating university in the world, with the University of Bologna’s founding dating back to 1088. According to U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 university rankings, Italian institutions make up five out of the top 200 ranked universities in the world. Although Italy has a virtually unparalleled history as a hotbed of renaissance thinkers and intellectuals in many fields, rising dropout rates and budget cuts have caused a major setback in Italian higher education.

The Bologna Process: Reforms for a Standardized and Compatible European Education

Originally agreed upon in 1999 by European nations at the University of Bologna, the EU’s Bologna Process aims to create consistency among degree-granting institutions in Europe. While creating a more standardized and cross-compatible education system, students living in the EU have easier access to study at universities outside of their home nation. The agreement’s mutual recognition of degrees granted at Bologna Process member institutions also allows for fewer barriers to employment abroad.

The Laurea

Italy’s “Laurea Triennale” degree is comparable to a Bachelor of Science in the English-speaking world. However, the major distinction between these two degrees is that a traditional Bachelor of Science degree takes four years to complete, whereas the Italian Laurea takes only three years.

Classes Taught in English

Many of the top-ranked universities in Italy, such as the University of Bologna and Bocconi University, offer programs in which courses are taught in English rather than Italian. The English-speaking programs allow Italian universities to gain a more internationally diverse student body, as well as a more competitive pool of applicants to Italy’s top universities.

The North-South Discrepancies

Although literacy rates in northern Italian regions near the Austrian border are comparable to those of top-performing nations such as South Korea, over two-thirds of adults living in the southern Italian province of Calabria have low levels of literacy. The regional gap issues contribute to the relatively low higher education rates in Italy since only 20% of Italians have a college degree. Italy’s college graduation rates are 10 percent less than the average of all industrialized nations.

Truancy and Relatively High Dropout Rates Coinciding with Funding Cuts

From 2009 to 2014, the Italian Education Ministry cut funding by 20%. During that same time span, the average dropout rate of Italian universities rose to 40% and there were zero Italian universities in the top 200 global rankings in 2014. However, even though Italian universities have risen in rankings since 2014, with the nation’s top five universities ranked within the global top 200, dropout rates have risen to 45% and truancy rates reached three times the OECD average. On top of these graduation rate issues, only 30% of students receive their Laurea in the traditional three-year time span.

Looking Ahead

Many Italian universities have proven to be pillars of consistent academic success, operating continuously for centuries. However, recent shortcomings in Italian higher education are a large cause for concern. Fiscal years of reduced funding have coincided with a decrease in education levels and university rankings within Italy. The enormous divide between the quality of education in the North and South of Italy also exacerbates the problems.

Salvatore Brancato
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Italy 
In 2020, about 5.6 million people in Italy were living in absolute poverty, meaning they greatly struggled to obtain basic needs, including water, food and shelter. More than 20% of those people were children. Though Italy is not on the list of poor countries in the EU, its population of children in poverty has steadily grown over the last few years. Child poverty in Italy has become a worsening crisis. Here are three facts about child poverty in Italy.

The Link Between Child Labor and Child Poverty in Italy

In 2015, approximately 340,000 children had to work to financially support their families. The Italian government does not have a standardized system for measuring child labor, which is why no consistent data has been released in the last few years. Researchers are concerned that child labor has sharply risen amid this gap in data, especially due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the children who had to work lived in Southern Italy, where there is significant segregation among social classes. Working kids typically come from impoverished multi-child households. An only child runs a 7% risk of living in poverty, whereas a child with siblings faces a 30% chance of poverty. These kids tend to work after school or miss school to work. In many areas of Italy, child labor is often culturally acceptable in workplaces like restaurants because customers think they are family businesses.

In the process of trying to make more money, some child workers fall into the hands of criminal organizations, such as the Mafia, according to Humanium. These organizations often pay kids higher than average wages in exchange for requiring them to sell drugs on the streets of low-income areas with high rates of violence. Criminal organizations often force young girls to make money through sex work.

How the EU and Italian Government are Eliminating Child Poverty in Italy

In 2021, the EU implemented the European Child Guarantee, under which member states create their own Child Guarantee National Action Plan (NAP) aimed at improving the lives of children and decreasing child poverty. The Italian government collaborated with local organizations and submitted its NAP to the EU in April 2021.

In its NAP, the Italian government focuses on early childhood education and childcare. Italy plans to provide more support to caregivers and further integrate children that are national citizens with immigrant children, especially those coming from Ukraine. The government is planning to ensure that all children have access to healthy meals at school and that more full-time schools are available for working parents. To help fight child poverty in Italy, the government has said that it will implement special support measures for children from underserved communities.

The Tree of Life Foundation is Helping Kids

The Tree of Life Foundation — or the L’Albero della Vita in Italian — focuses on providing children with proper nutrition, comprehensive health care and social and sports activities. The organization started in 1997 as a volunteer program, and about a decade later, the Tree of Life became an official Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Italy. Since becoming an NGO, the program has expanded to other countries across the world.

In its latest response to growing child poverty in Italy, the Tree of Life Foundation gave baskets of staples to families that included groceries, children’s clothing and educational materials. It also provided families with an education program to learn how to best manage their household budget. The Tree of Life offers individual counseling, parent-support programs, workshops for children and employment-guidance meetings. The organization has created a network where impoverished families can support and learn from one another, and it prioritizes supporting mothers and pregnant people.

Looking Ahead

Though poverty is worsening in Italy, and child poverty is no exception, community members work to protect kids. Local communities help children in need by volunteering, assisting families and mothers, donating meals and speaking up when they see signs of child abuse, homelessness or child labor. Multiple NGOs in Italy are fighting child poverty and asking the government to do more simultaneously. Hopefully, the country’s NAP will make important systemic changes that help alleviate child poverty in Italy.

– Delaney Murray
Photo: Flickr

Health Care in Sicily
In the small village of Mussomeli, Sicily, the lack of economic opportunities has prompted many inhabitants to move to larger cities. Rapid depopulation has made this village a ghost of its previous self, with crumbling buildings and a high unemployment rate. Most importantly, the lack of health care professionals has created a vacuum in the local village hospital, creating problems with health care in Sicily.

Poverty in Sicily

In 1968, an earthquake occurred across Sicily called the Belice earthquake. Measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale, this earthquake killed hundreds and left around 100,000 people homeless. The damage that the earthquake caused was so great that it was cheaper for many inhabitants to move elsewhere with the insurance money than to stay and rebuild.

Although the government tried to reconstruct the ravaged villages, grocery stores, workshops, farmhouses and hospitals remained unbuilt, significantly impacting health care in Sicily.

Thus began the exodus in Sicily that would continue for decades. As the old inhabitants of Sicilian villages relocated to escape the wreckage, the economy of southern Italy would continue to recess. Across the country, young people would leave rural towns for larger cities and better opportunities. Depopulation occurred across Sicily and some areas would see up to a 30% decrease since the 1950s, with a total of more than 1 million inhabitants moving away from southern Italy.

Later on, other reasons would contribute to the general poverty in Sicily, including the long and complicated history and influence of the Mafia, a lack of economic opportunities other than agriculture, issues of health care in Sicily and unemployment rates reaching up to 18.7%, one of the highest unemployment rates in all of Italy.

One-Euro Houses Bring Doctors

Faced with an economic recession and health care emergencies, the government of this Sicilian town Mussomeli began selling dilapidated houses for €1 only. Hoping for foreign investment at first, what they got in turn was much more than they ever imagined.

Argentinian doctors with Italian roots have begun settling in Mussomeli, not only to fill the vacancy for health care professionals but also to help revitalize the village. Many of these families had migrated from Mussomeli in the 1900s and now have the opportunity not only to return home but also to accept a career change.

For example, Leonardo Roldan, who is an ER surgeon, had two goals in his move to Mussomeli. “I’m still quite young, 49, so it’s more than just a professional shift in my career: It’s the choice of leading a different life,” he told CNN in an interview.

To Roldan, a life in Mussomeli means the chance to take things slowly and enjoy a change in pace. According to him, “Mussomeli is a total break from my everyday reality. It’s another world: quiet, peaceful, where locals lead a simple lifestyle. I have come to realize that we should all, at some point in our lives, slow down and take it easy, take more time to savor things of quality” CNN reported. Furthermore, four of Roldan’s great-grandparents had migrated to Argentina from Italy. Moving here would allow Roldan to make a new connection with his roots.

The Future

Now, Mussomeli’s local village hospital and the university of Rosario located in Argentina have struck a partnership. Many Argentinian doctors are participating in this partnership, due to the cheap prices of the one-euro houses and the other opportunities that village life could offer.

According to the mayor of Mussomeli, Guiseppe Catania, “soon we will have new Argentinian doctors who speak fluent Italian,” and the emergency vacancies in health care in Sicily and its villages just might resolve.

– Emilie Zhang
Photo: Flickr

Italy’s Stimulus
On May 1, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced the approval of the new economic stimulus package dedicated to minimizing the impact of the war in Ukraine on Italian citizens and workers. Italy has a heavy reliance on many imported Russian goods. Of all the European Union nations, Italy will likely face the worst economic growth and supply chain issues the country has seen for decades.

The Economic Difficulties Causing the Need for Italy’s Stimulus Package

Italy’s stimulus package comes to lessen the impact of the war in Ukraine. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) makes economic growth predictions annually. After the beginning of the war, the EIU changed its forecasts. The original projection for Italy’s economy was a growth rate of 4.4% but decreased to 3.4% within three months. Due to the investments and changes Italy must make over the next few months to support its economy and citizens the stimulus package will be necessary to aid future economic growth and security.

Russia originally supplied around 40% of Italy’s gas supply. Italy is determined to lessen its dependence on Russian gas and had been looking to do so before the conflict, but the war has sped up the need for change. Italy is hoping to increase its reliance on Algeria for its gas supply. Still, additional factors are at play with the deal Italy and Algeria have struck. According to Politico, Algeria needs to update its infrastructure for the gas industry, as investments in that sector have been lacking. The need for gas most likely means Italy must be the primary investor in the industry to receive the amount of gas necessary to support the country’s needs.

One of the other sectors that the lack of Russian support will hit the hardest is the tourism industry. Italy’s tourism industry, which like that of most nations experienced a decline in tourist numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic, will not recover to its original numbers without the assistance of Russian tourists. Overall, Russian tourists are only a small percentage of Italy’s tourists, about 1.5%. However, their economic impact is still significant because of how much they spend. Russian tourists spend almost €1 billion in Italy in 2019, La Prensa Latina reports. Countless other Italian industries and business sectors will suffer due to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the domino effect it has had on economies worldwide. Italian citizens will be incredibly grateful for the government’s quick moves to draft the stimulus package.

How is it Different from Past Stimulus Packages?

This new stimulus package is not Italy’s first. The government sent out the last of Italy’s most recent stimulus packages in March 2021 for €32 billion. Around €11 billion in that package went to companies that lost at least 30% of their income in 2020. Eight billion euros of the stimulus was for fighting poverty and supporting employment and those in unemployment too. The COVID-19 stimulus package allocated €900 million for seasonal workers and €5 billion for purchasing vaccines and unexpected additional health care costs.

Prime Minister Draghi said this about Italy’s stimulus package in 2021, “This decree is a significant and very coherent response to poverty and businesses, it is a partial response, but it is the maximum that we have been able to do,” Euronews reports. Italian absolute poverty decreased from 7.7% in 2020 to 7.5% in 2021, showing a positive trend and the overarching benefits of Italy’s stimulus packages.

Overall, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy spent more than €200 billion to counteract economic damages. Thankfully, by the end of 2021, Italy’s economy grew by 6.5%, having recovered from the worst of the financial crises that the pandemic initiated. Italy’s stimulus package in 2022 provides hope and expectations for a similar recovery despite the difficulties.

What Will This Stimulus Package Do for Italy?

Italy’s stimulus package in response to the war in Ukraine has various components, including individual bonuses of €200 to middle and low-income families. The package secures bank loans too and directs funds at supporting families struggling with the cost of living as prices skyrocket. One of the most burdensome costs internationally is the cost of gas. The Italian government extended the cut on rising gas prices. The prices cannot increase an additional 25 cents per liter (0.25 gallons) of gas until at least July 8, 2022, when the government hopes to have the rising prices under control.

Rising prices dramatically changed Italians’ ability to purchase construction materials. Thus, the Italian government is setting aside €3 billion to help the construction companies immediately battle these prices. According to Reuters, Italy’s stimulus package sets aside an additional €400,000 in grants and funding for guarantees on bank loans and grants for all types of firms and companies impacted by the sanctions on Russian companies and products.

The funding for most of Italy’s stimulus package comes from newly created taxes on energy companies. The taxes ensure that the burden of significantly increased prices does not fall on the individuals who have been struggling since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Migration to Italy from North Africa
The migration scenario in Italy has evolved considerably in recent years. The request for residence permits for family reasons or protection has drastically increased and the geography of origin is changed. Sea landings from the North African coasts today constitute the main migratory mass toward Italy, a phenomenon that has reached critical proportions over time. Here is some information about the migration to Italy from North Africa.

A Snapshot of the Migratory Flows of the Last Decade

In the last decade, the flow of Italian coast landings from Africa has often reached critical thresholds. The beginning of the Arab Spring and the revolution in Tunisia brought approximately 60,000 people and immigrants to Italy in 2010.

The conclusion of the revolution in Tunisia in January 2011 ended with the interim election of President Mohamed Ghannouchi. This led to a brief period of stagnation in landings in Italy. A new conflict outbreak from Libya brought a new peak in migratory flows two years later.

Since 2014, these landings have reached dramatic thresholds. Between January 2015 and January 2018, the Italian Institute for International Political Studies estimates that the threshold of 180,000 landings per year was reached. These numbers were unmanageable for coast guard rescue teams in the event of shipwrecks and for the capacity of the Italian reception centers.

The February 2017 critical situation led the Italian foreign ministry to sign an agreement with the Libyan government. The three-year agreement required the Italian government to provide economic aid and technical support to the Libyan authorities and the Coast Guard to reduce the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea while Libya improves the conditions of its migrant reception centers. After two years, the number of landings on the Italian coasts dropped from 200,000 in 2017 to 15,000 in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to various consequences with heavy repercussions on international mobility. Contrary to tourism, the effects of the pandemic on landings in Italy and Spain, have been opposite. In 2021, there were 67,000 landings in Italy.

Political Response to the Crisis in Europe

Numerous key elements gravitate around the landing of migrants in Italy. Italy does not bear all of the migration crisis expenses ranging from the rescue missions to the logistics and reception of immigrants aimed at guaranteeing livelihood and health care.

The EU commission has allocated the “2014-2020 Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund” for the integrated management of the phenomenon of migratory flows in asylum, integration and repatriation.

The situation in the reception centers is stable as the number of landings today is not so critical. It is natural to consider whether Italy will be able to withstand the pressure in the future if the 2017 figures are reached as the number of migrants housed in official Libya detention centers grew in 2021.

Europe has not developed a concrete plan on the redistribution of immigrants on European soil that will integrate and extend the Malta agreements on the subject, stipulated between Italy, France and Germany. For this reason, only 2% of the 53,000 people who disembarked from 2019 to mid-2021 moved to other European countries.

The Response to the Political Crisis in Italy

On the Italian side, one of the reasons for the rate of irregular immigration from Africa is the fact that Italy’s regular entry channels for non-EU citizens in the last decade have progressively reduced. The reasoning comes from the effect of the 2008 crisis and a political measure dictated more by the nationalist aversion to the increase in landings in recent years than by the objectivity of the figures.

This general closure also underwent replication in the acceptance of international asylum applications by Italy. The change in Italian legislation has meant that the number of permits granted for humanitarian and special protection in 2017 went from 28% to 1% in 2021. The closing trends, which many other European Union countries have followed, are somewhat unjustified, especially since the numbers of landings in recent years are growing.

The third crucial element to consider in this matter is the integration of those who land on the Italian coasts and its close correlation with employment. It is the integration that allows populations who leave their countries driven by wars, violence and poverty to be able to work while rebuilding a life and contributing to the economies of the host countries.

The Italian Institute for International Political Studies states that the difficulty of integrating refugees into the labor market of the country of destination is considerable. According to estimates, after more than a decade from the first entry into the country, the employment rate remains only slightly higher than 50%. This is due to the high general unemployment rate that has plagued Italy since the last global economic crisis and COVID-19 aggravated this further.

Looking Ahead

Over the past year, the number of migrants and refugees who lost their lives trying to reach Europe by sea was 896, a figure more than double the numbers in 2020. Italy’s inadequacies on this matter are still many and cannot be justified by the lack of a lasting and coherent political governance caused by the numerous changes of government. By its divisive character, immigration is often at the center of the media and political debate, becoming a salient point of electoral programs.

The current and past efforts represent a good starting point for improving the national emergency reception and integration plans for migrants to prepare Italy to face the possible future aggravation of these migratory flows. The country will require assistance to face refugees’ continued migration to Italy as many deaths occur at sea.

– Francesco Gozzo
Photo: Flickr

McDonalds Combats Global PovertyFounded in 1955, McDonald’s is one of the largest fast-food companies in the world. Renowned for its burgers and fries, McDonald’s currently offers a variety of food options in 118 different countries. As a result, the company operates more than 38,000 restaurants, employs millions of people and garners billions of dollars in revenue every year. Considering the fast-food giant’s worldwide presence, it is in a unique position to help impoverished communities around the world. Recognizing this, McDonald’s combats global poverty in several ways.

5 Ways McDonald’s Combats Global Poverty

  1. McDonald’s is one of the top employers in the world. According to Forbes, McDonald’s currently employs more than 1.9 million people worldwide. The only employers that outrank McDonald’s are the U.S. Department of Defense (3.2 million employees), China’s People’s Liberation Army (2.3 million employees) and Walmart (2.1 million employees). McDonald’s gives people around the world an opportunity to earn a living, work toward advancement opportunities and escape poverty.
  2. McDonald’s prioritizes employee education and advancement. In 2018, Mcdonald’s expanded its Archways to Opportunity program, an education initiative available to “restaurant employees in 25 countries.” The program allows employees “the opportunity to graduate from college, earn a high school diploma, learn English as a second language, complete an apprenticeship and gain access to advising services.” In Australia alone, more than 48,000 certifications have been awarded as of April 30, 2021.
  3. McDonald’s joined the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. Along with several other companies, McDonald’s supports the European Alliance for Apprenticeship’s mission to “improve access to vocational training” throughout Europe. Apprenticeships are important because they allow young people to acquire practical job experience and on-the-job skills to increase their chances of employment. Overall, in Europe, McDonald’s and other companies committed “to offer 45,000 apprenticeships by 2025.” These apprenticeships will take place in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K.
  4. McDonald’s supports Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). RMHC is a nonprofit organization that “creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families.” RMHC runs 260 Chapters in 62 nations around the world. These programs assist families with ill children by providing free accommodation near the medical center so that families can afford to be present while their child receives medical care. Additionally, the nonprofit organization Meals From The Heart works closely with McDonald’s and RMHC to provide families with freshly cooked meals during their stay. Overall, RMHC aims to offer a housing option to families experiencing financial hardship due to child medical bills.
  5. McDonald’s donated food during the COVID-19 pandemic. McDonald’s partnered with organizations, including Food Donation Connection and the Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), to donate food surpluses to families in need around the world. For example, McDonald’s donated eggs, bread and milk to struggling families in Ireland, England, Germany and Italy. Additionally, McDonald’s donated 250,000 pounds worth of food to Canadian food banks and NGOs. The company also gave thousands of liters of milk to migrant workers in Singapore.

A Significant Impact

Overall, McDonald’s combats global poverty by financing and supporting education, housing and food aid programs around the world. Despite economic and financial challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s support for communities abroad never weaned. McDonald’s continues to have a significant impact around the world by combating global poverty and helping those in need.

– Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

Olympics Forward Fashion

The 2020 Olympics officially started on July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. During the traditional opening ceremony, countries participated in a commencement parade dawning various outfits and garments that paid homage to their home countries and cultures. Following this event, the world’s audience became interested in these cultures and used the internet to learn more about them. The forward fashion at the Olympics was especially interesting to viewers of the games. As a result, international poverty-based nonprofits and tourism websites have seen heavy traffic, which will help the economies of dozens of nations.

The 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony

The Olympic Games have continued to be the most anticipated sporting event across the globe. After the pandemic-induced delay of the 2020 games, the world can finally watch the events it has waited five years for. According to VOA News, more than 17 million people watched the opening ceremony. 

Millions of viewers appreciated the outfits of the athletes. Competitors wore dazzling cultural garments to represent their ethnicities and home regions. For example, AP News highlighted the beautiful outfits adorned by representatives from Iran, Cameroon, the Virgin Islands and other nations. They called the affair “a mosaic of cultures and fashions and traditions.” Viewers reviewing and commenting on the parade flooded popular social media outlets like TikTok and Twitter, with hashtags like #OlympicsOutfits trending.

How the Fashion Boosted Poverty Related Research

After the opening ceremony concluded, Google searches for countries like Kenya and Ghana skyrocketed. According to Google Trends, these countries received a 20% boost in searches across the globe. In turn, websites promoting tourism and aid to these nations also experienced heavy web traffic. This was a significant and much-needed boost since the pandemic diminished these essential international discussions. Organizations like UNICEF and the World Bank also had more site visitors than average.

Multiple articles also highlighted the cultural importance of the athletes’ outfits. News about the clothing trended worldwide. While some media firms praised the fashion of the ceremony, others scrutinized the seemingly lackluster outfits from Italy and the U.S.

How Poverty Will Diminish as a Result

As more and more people continue to research the Olympics forward fashion, expectations have determined that poverty could decrease globally. Of course, a rise in tourism will help a country’s economy, but furthermore, the positive cultural representation will also relieve impoverished conditions in a myriad of regions.

According to the Community Action Programme on Social Exclusion, optimistic outlooks on a nation and culture can alter the probability that countries enter an impoverished state. Without a positive viewpoint of the region and its people, countries are less likely to have policy development in government. Further, these countries get less international appreciation, which leads to the migration of the rich and a sinking economy for the poor. However, with further representation in the Olympics and continued research from the international audience, appreciation of the teams’ cultures is likely to spread across the world. Whether or not the Olympics forward fashion will continue to be a hot topic, the impacts of cultural knowledge will last.

– Laken Kincaid
Photo: Unsplash