Facts About Poverty in Italy

In 2017 the number of individuals in Italy living in “absolute poverty” rose to 5.1 million people, or 8.4 percent of Italy’s population. That number is up from the 7.9 percent reported back in 2016. Absolute poverty refers to a condition where a person does not have the minimum amount of income needed to meet the minimum requirements for one or more basic living needs over an extended period of time. With such a great amount of people unable to support themselves on a day to day basis and the overall region experiencing a rise in poverty levels each year, it is time to take another look at the facts about poverty in Italy.

10 Facts About Poverty in Italy

  1. Poverty is a threat in southern Italy. Southern Italy’s economy has grown slowly compared to northern Italy and its economy contracted by 13 percent from 2008 to 2013, almost twice as fast as the North’s at seven percent. Between 2007 and 2014, 70 percent of people in Italy who were in poverty were from southern Italy. The threat of poverty has caused some individuals to join the mafia in order to escaped the harshness of absolute poverty. Today, 47 percent of people still live at risk of poverty in southern Italy.
  2. The average household income in Italy rose in 2015, around €2,500 per month, but this was heavily concentrated in the richest fifth of Italy’s population. Think tank Censis reported that more than 87 percent of working-class Italians say it is difficult to climb the social scale, along with 83 percent of the middle class and 71 percent of the affluent.
  3. Italy’s debt is one of the worst in the E.U., with a national debt of $2.6 trillion, roughly 120 percent of its GDP. The debt was not as bad in the 1990s due to smart budgeting tactics, but after the global recession hit, the debt crisis began. Italy may not be able to sell its new debt to cover its old debt, indicating why these facts about poverty in Italy are so important to understand.
  4. Corruption within Italy has halted economic growth. More than 15 percent of Italy’s economy occurs on the black market and other underground avenues. With a past filled with tax evasion charges among others, Italy has seen its good government standing decrease over the years. Bad government leads to bad decision making which ultimately leads to the downfall of a good economic plan.
  5. Minors also face the brunt of poverty. In 2017, 1.208 million minors were living in absolute poverty. Children growing up in poverty leads to many problems down the road. Many may drop out of school to support their families or find other methods to garner a decent living. Italy’s poverty problem is so deep that not even children can escape it.
  6. With the establishment of new leadership in government, Italy is looking at a hopeful start to fixing its economy. Italy’s GDP rose 1.5 percent last year, the highest since 2010. While growth has been slow, the government is now actively trying to combat poverty.
  7. Recently the Italian government passed a bill that allocates €1.6 billion to help families in need as well as minors in need. The bill focuses on tackling poverty through welfare packages and anything else that can help people get by.
  8. The proposed bill gives families in need up to €400 each month. The estimate is that around 400,000 families will benefit from this new bill. The country’s Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti stated that the bill “fills a long-standing gap in the Italian system of protecting individuals on a low income, and is the sign of a new approach to social policy.”
  9. The grand plan to end poverty in Italy centers around the idea of social development, or establishing the means in which the foundation of Italy is secure and no one is at risk of being in poverty. Social development has been what the U.N. has cited as the most efficient way of reducing poverty.
  10. Italy looks to improve its economy each year at around one percent and continues to be optimistic about its chances of reducing poverty. Job growth is the priority of the current government and many steps are being made to accomplish that goal.

While Italy has one of the worst economies in the E.U., the nation is working to improve its conditions. These 10 facts about poverty in Italy demonstrate both the breadth and depth of the problem as well as the steps the country is taking to resolve its issues.

– Michael Huang
Photo: Flickr

Africa Rising
This past May, the International Monetary Fund met with Governors and Finance Ministers of Sub-Saharan African nations to assess progress in the region over the last two decades and anticipate challenges for future growth.

Sub-Saharan Africa is considered one of the fastest growing regions on Earth. Last year,  after a recalculation of its gross domestic product, Nigeria surpassed South Africa as the largest economy on the continent, and placed it on par with the economies of Poland and Belgium as the 24th largest economy in the world.

Many countries in the region have benefited from strong economic performance, stronger institutions and higher investment in human and physical capital. However, job creation is low and there are large infrastructure gaps.

Even in Nigeria, per capita income is a low $3,000.

Leaders at the Africa Rising meeting in Maputo, Mozambique discussed ways to solve these issues and ensure that the growth the continent has seen in the past continues into the future. Policies will focus on job creation and diversification, and on correcting the income inequality that accompanied recent economic progress.

Those who attended the Maputo Joint Declaration also agreed on the need for a two-part system of transformation. The first of these is the creation of a strong private sector to create jobs; the second is investment in infrastructure with a focus on transportation and energy.

It is estimated that $90 billion a year is needed to close the current infrastructure gap across the continent.

“Sub-Saharan Africa will need to redouble efforts to harness the opportunities offered by its abundant natural resources and ensure that their fruits are equitably shared,” said Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director.

Despite recent growth, conflict still plagues sub-Saharan Africa, preventing further progress. The activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria, the crisis in South Sudan and a possible recession in South Africa all threaten years of development.

To maintain developmental progress, attendees of the summit agreed that economic policies should be flexible and tailored to each country, especially in the face of conflict. Leaders also expressed appreciation for the assistance of the International Monetary Fund and hoped for continued support in times of need.

The growth of African nations in recent years has allowed them to tap into the sovereign debt market for the first time.

Lagarde said national leaders must be warned of the dangers of racking up too much debt. The International Monetary Fund predicts that debt for sub-Saharan African countries will hide 35 percent of GDP in 2014.

“That is additional financing, but that is an additional vulnerability,” Lagarde said.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that fiscal deficits in the region will be 3.3 percent of the GDP this year. But in its biannual report, the International Monetary Fund also predicted economic growth of 5.4 percent, up from 4.9 percent last year.

It appears that Africa is indeed rising, and if it can withstand internal challenges and global shocks as it continues to grow, the world may also see a reduction in the extreme poverty situation that affects so many of its citizens.

– Kristen Bezner


Sources: Financial Times, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, IMF
Photo: Vacations and Travel