Since 2007, the percentage of Italians living in poverty has more than doubled from 3.1% to 7.6%. Now over 7.5 million Italians live in poverty, and it’s the younger generations that are suffering most.
Hit by high unemployment and some of the lowest wages in Europe, young Italians make up nearly half of Italy’s poor, according to a new report by Caritas (pdf) a Catholic organization focused on social services and development in the country. One in ten young Italians are poor, and this impacts new families, with young parents struggling most to provide for their children: One in ten Italian families where the main breadwinner is under 34 also live below the poverty line.
Before the recession, pensioners made up the relative majority of Italy’s poor, according to census data reported in the paper. Now, pensioners have turned out to be the most reliable breadwinners, benefitting from the country’s more reliable economic gains up until about 2007. Poverty levels have even slightly fallen for families whose main breadwinner is over the age of 65: In 2007, 4.8% of families supported by the elderly were poor; in 2015, that’s fallen to 4%.
This is a trend that Italy shares with other struggling European economies: Spain, Portugal and Greece all experienced higher levels of poverty among young people and better conditions for older people in 2013 (to the latest OECD data available), than they did in 2007.