top 10 facts about living conditions in Italy
Italy, one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world, has been ranked relatively low in US News’ 2018 Best Countries report. Italy placed 15th in a list of 80 countries following the Nordic countries, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. This came as a shock to many non-Italians, as Italy is often idealized and tourism often highlights the best of the country, not its realities. To understand this ranking, here are 10 facts about living conditions in Italy:

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Italy

  1. Housing
    Housing in Italy, particularly in the northern and center cities, is very expensive. Cities like Milan and Rome are some of the most expensive cities, not just in Italy, but in the world: Milan ranks 50th and Rome 58th on the list of most expensive cities in the world. Despite the region—north, center, or south—the cost of housing greatly increased from 21 percent in 2005 to 24 percent in 2014 and has stayed above this level since. This increase was actually noted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as one of the strongest rises in the OECD.
  2. Income
    General income in Italy is relatively low and has been turbulent since 2005. Moreover, between 2010 and 2014, the average household net wealth fell by 18 percent. Though there were signs of real recovery in 2015, household net-adjusted disposable income fell again in 2016 and was reportedly 10 percent lower than in 2005. This massive decline has also been noted to be one of the largest falls in the OECD.
  3. Poverty
    There is a massive gap between the wealthy and the poor in Italy, both geographically and financially. Geographically, much of the wealthy live in the north of Italy, while many of the poorer Italians live in the south. Moreover, as the OECD has noted, Italian income is distributed the most unevenly across Italian households than any other country. The OECD states that this is due to the fact that the average income of those in the top quintile is almost six times higher than those in the bottom quintile. However, the poverty level in Italy is growing. 14 percent of households across the country were labeled as income poor in 2016.
  4. Gender Equality
    The gender inequality in Italy is one of the biggest reasons behind poor life quality ratings. It was found that in Italy, women are 15 percent more likely to be unemployed and, even when employed, they are 75 percent more likely to be employed in low-paying jobs. As the OECD has noted, the gender gap in Italy is one of the largest compared to other countries under inspection by the OECD.
  5. Health
    Italy’s healthcare system, the Italian National Health Service (SSN), is one of the country’s redeeming facets. The SSN is a universal, egalitarian public system guaranteeing assistance to all citizens. However, its one downfall is that the wait time for examination is often lengthy; it can reach a couple months, even with an urgent case. Nevertheless, the overall health of Italy has increased by 7.5 points since 2005, which places the country just below the OECD average in health.
  6. Environmental Quality
    Although Italy is known for its beautiful scenery and landscapes, overall air pollution increased by 3 percent between 2005 and 2013 and has been rising since. Much of this pollution is due to poor sanitization; a vicious cycle has been created where poor sanitation creates pollution and pollution generates poor sanitation. Moreover, the OECD has received many complaints in the last few years about decreasing water quality in Italy.
  7. Civic Engagement
    There is an overall unrest with Italian civics. This is more substantial in the younger generations, but Italian civics has nevertheless seen a general decrease in participation. Voter turnout, like many other countries in the OECD, has decreased in Italy. The last known statistic is that 75 percent of Italy’s population voted in the 2013 general elections, which was significantly less than the 84 percent recorded in 2006. Moreover, a staggering 89 percent of Italians believe that there is widespread corruption across their government, which is much higher than the OECD’s average of 59 percent who believe this. Finally, perhaps as a result of the increasing belief in widespread corruption, only 38 percent of Italians say that they have confidence in the government.
  8. Education
    Although OECD’s recent data in Italy’s upper education system is unassessable, there are a few positives to highlight. Between 2014 and 2016, the rate of people in upper education increased by just under one percent and has been slightly increasing since. Additionally, the gender gap in education outcomes in Italy has decreased and now seems to favor women.
  9. Employment
    Italy’s employment rate has not improved substantially since 2005. The unemployment rate, currently at 12 percent, is currently reported to be three times higher for younger generations as opposed to the current middle-aged generation. The unemployment rate is the third highest in the entirety of the OECD.
  10. Life Satisfaction
    In the past decade, the Italian population’s life satisfaction has fallen from 6.7 to an average of 5.9 on a scale out of 10. This is significantly lower than the OECD’s average and causes concern as it continues to decrease.

These facts about living conditions in Italy highlight that there is much room for improvement. Although much of the country sees a high amount of tourism, it isn’t enough to generate a steady economy or to close the large gap between the poor and wealthy. There is still hope for Italy, but a substantial amount of work remains to be done.

– Isabella Agostini
Photo: Flickr

Poverty In Italy

Causes of Poverty in Italy

Poverty in Italy is on the rise as millions of Italians are unable to heat their homes and afford basic necessities. A recession, soaring unemployment and an increasing migrant population are the biggest contributors so far. In light of these conditions, Italians are working together to reduce poverty rates.

A post-war recession caused the number of people living in absolute and relative poverty to jump in 2012; southern regions were hit especially hard. Italy’s unemployment rate, like its economy, is slow to recover. Despite living in the third-largest economy in the eurozone, youths between 15-24 years of age are hit the hardest as approximately 40% are unemployed.

The Group of the Party of European Socialists (PES Group) in the Committee of the Regions (CoR) hopes to address this issue through the Giovanisi project in Tuscany. This project, which draws support from the European Union’s Structural Fund, includes initiatives to promote a right to study, vocational skills, entrepreneurship, support for housing and independent living as well as services related to well-being in the community.

Food Security

Food security is also an issue for many citizens. Of the 8.6 million impoverished people in Italy, about 16.6% of families live in poverty and cannot afford healthy meals. As a result, a family may go without meat once every two days. According to the Associated Press, Italy’s highest court ruled that stealing small amounts of food is no longer illegal for the country’s destitute and starving in May 2016.

Pope Francis recently visited the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to address the need to end hunger. The pope called on U.N. member states to strengthen their commitment to serving and cooperating with WFP. “In this way, the World Food Program will not only be able to respond to emergencies but also implement sound and consistent projects and promote long-term development programs, as requested by each of the governments and in keeping with the needs of their peoples,” said the pope. Despite the lack of food security in Italy, the European nation was one of the top 25 donors to the WFP in 2015.

Migration into Italy

Italy has also seen a spike in the number of migrants. According to the Telegraph, “There are more than 130,000 migrants living in reception centers in Italy, waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum or expelled.” However, migrants have played a role in aiding police officers in the town of Caltanissetta, Sicily. According to The Local, officers struggled with providing support to the thousands of foreign visitors and migrants that pass through each year. Police Chief Diego Peruga approached the city’s mayor, Giovanni Ruvolo, about getting lessons for his officers. Ruvolo thought it would be beneficial if some of the city’s asylum seekers could teach a 30-hour basic English course for the police force; the asylum seekers were happy to volunteer as teachers. “It also provides them with the opportunity to give something back to the town which has welcomed them with open arms,” said Ruvolo.

There is still much work to be done to alleviate poverty in Italy — changes in the economy and unemployment cannot happen overnight. Thanks to these initiatives the country is getting on the right track.

Veronica Ung-Kono

Poverty in Italy
Rome, Italy has a population of nearly 2.9 million people and is considered to be one of Europe’s most significant cities. Notwithstanding its status as a city rich with culture and history, Rome is also a victim of poverty.

Although the country has seem some economic stability during the past several years, Rome, as well as the rest of Italy, are not foreign to financial turmoil.

Several years ago, poverty in Italy reached its highest level in over 16 years. It resulted in high levels of unemployment and lower wages. Today, more than 16 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty.

In Italy, poverty is defined by a family of two living on a monthly income of 991 euros or less.

Similar to much of the industrialized world, Italy experienced an economic recession following the global stock market downturn of the late 2000s. Between 2011 and 2012, the nation saw its poverty levels increase.

Like the rest of the country, Rome’s economy is decidedly mixed. Even though Italy has seen some economic improvement in recent years, there continues to be some worrisome signs.

As a metropolitan city and popular tourist destination, Rome, like many of Europe’s cities, regularly sees its economy boosted by tourism. This is in conjunction with an increasingly significant number of African refugees who occupy isolated camps and villages around the city.

Unlike other countries, Italy does not provide refugees with adequate skill sets and chances to seek new economic opportunities. Many of these refugees, who are from the impoverished nations of the Horn of Africa, often find similar poverty conditions along the outskirts of Rome.

Such poverty is not limited to African refugees, however. Thousands of children in the city live in a state of poverty. Austerity measures, generated by the recession of recent years, have not had much of an effect.

Perhaps only time can help alleviate some of Rome’s economic suffering. With its notable tourism industry, Rome will likely remain one of Europe’s most prominent cities despite its lingering poverty problem.

– Ethan Safran

Sources: Reuters, Ansa Med, Open Society Foundations, Global Post, The Guardian
Photo: RT

Whenever there is mention of Italy, one is usually prompted to daydream to the romantic capital of Rome, to splendid and sunny Sicily, or even to the venerable Vatican. Seldom does poverty come to mind – thus, it may come as a surprise that Italy has, in fact, the highest amount of impoverished children in Europe—in which it is also the third largest economy.

As many as two million children are estimated to live below the poverty line in Italy, many of whom never even get the chance to attend school; those who do, on the other hand, often drop out to pursue a minimum wage job. Sex trade is, furthermore, rather common here, while access to hot water and other basic amenities is not.

According to UNICEF, a staggering one in two children in Italy live in “absolute poverty,” their parents unable to supply them with even the simplest of items such as Band-Aids. The aforementioned Sicily, a population tourist destination for its beaches, tanning and shopping, houses 32 percent of the poorest of Italy’s population. There is also a pressing lack of public child care services, which reportedly receives but 1.1 percent of the country’s total GDP. The ongoing economic crisis has only fostered these issues; however, UNICEF, among other concerned organizations, deems the country’s inattentiveness to its children’s futures as detrimental to the entire nation as a whole.

The divide among wealth is particularly evident within the northern and southern regions, the latter being the poorest area. Notably, the majority of sick children, regardless of origin, receive treatment in northern facilities, indicating the lack of- and poor quality of such in the south.

Moreover, in a study conducted in 2013, it was determined that a total of nearly five million Italians (or eight percent of the entire country’s population) live in absolute poverty. Despite Italy being filled with sunshine the year round (unlike some other countries in Europe, such as the ever-successful Sweden,) it is evidently one of the most unhappy nations out there. In this year’s World Happiness Report – surveying 156 countries – Italy places in at 45; while the United States (considerably bigger and more diverse, thus expected to do worse statistically rather than better than Italy,) comes in at 17.

Although nine out of 10 of the world’s poorest countries are currently located in Africa, and although Asia and India are other regions that are highly impacted by poverty, Italy, often perceived as luxurious and comparatively well-off, is also in current need of aid. It is suffering and while not being third-world, certainly remains below the current acceptable quality-of-life level, particularly so in Europe.

– Natalia Isaeva

Sources: The Local, The Daily Beast
Photo: RT