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Severe poverty strikes millions in Italy: ISTAT report

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Millions of Italians cannot afford to heat their homes properly or eat meat as their country is racked by recession and soaring unemployment, an official report has revealed.

The report released on Wednesday by Italy’s National Statistics Institute, ISTAT, said the number of people considered seriously deprived has doubled in the past two years.

The findings underlined the scale of the challenge faced by Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s new coalition government which has vowed to stimulate growth and tackle a youth jobless rate of almost 40 percent.

A recession that has lasted almost two years has taken a heavy toll on ordinary Italians who are increasingly digging into their savings, ISTAT said in its annual report.

Italy has the highest level in Europe of young people who are neither in education, nor in employment, at 23.9 percent, the study showed. In Italy’s impoverished south, one in three people aged 15-29 fell into this group.

The number of people living in families considered to be seriously deprived has doubled in the past two years to 8.6 million, or about 14 percent of the population, ISTAT said.

According to the report, about 14.9 million people, or a quarter of Italy’s population of 61 million, are living in families that meet three or more of ISTAT’s poverty indicators.

Italy started to experience recession after its economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011, and by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of the same year.

Over the past decade, Italy has been also the slowest growing economy in the eurozone.


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