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Italians feel vulnerable to encroaching poverty. PDF Print E-mail
Dec 22, 2014 at 05:54 PM

Image Even if you live here, it's hard to get a real handle on the effects of the ongoing economic crisis (which only next spring may have a light at the end of the tunnel, at least this is what Confindustria, Italy's national manufacturers association says). On weekends, my garage still gets emptied of cars. Most of the restaurants I have been to of late have been jumping, and with the start of this year's Christmas season, with Christmas lights twinkling everywhere, Rome's Via del Corso has so crowded with potential shoppers (maybe just window shoppers?) that if a Martian were to land he (or she) would find it hard to believe the statistics - unemployment at 13 percent, youth unemployment at over 40% and - over the last four years - a 25% drop in manufacturing. But the statistics are real and the overall mood is a somber or angry one, as the recent protests and scuffles with police would indicate.



ImageAccording to a recent study on the country's social profile by Censis, a major Rome-based economic and social research institute, 60 percent of Italians now believe that poverty is like a "virus" that can "infect anyone". The study, based on a series of in-depth interviews, showed that people here are neither investing or consuming with, the management of money on the part of households now done on an extremely brief time scale. Between 2007 and 2013, the study showed, all categories of family financial assets fell, except cash and bank deposits, which rose in real terms by 4.9% to constitute 30.9% of the total assets, compared to 27.3% in 2007. Many families claim to be dealing with the economic largely by cutting consumption. For the second year in a row, overall household consumption in 2013 was lower than in the early 2000s.

 How have people been trying to save? Fewer meals in restaurants (62%) fewer movies and other entertainment (58%), less use of vehicles (44%), change in diets (44%) On the other hand, although most of those interviewed - almost 90% - expressed confidence in the national healthcare service, private health-care spending rose from €29.6 billion in 2007 to €31.4 billion in 2013.

Perhaps most significantly, especially when compared to other countries, relatively few Italians seemed convinced that hard work and/or a good education would lead to success. Many stressed the need for good contacts and 20% (compared ot just 5% in France) said coming from a wealthy family was critical to success (as well as to surviving disease).

Many of those interviewed expressed anxiety about the future, But on the bright side, some 47% of Censis respondents about 12 percentage points more than last year, perceived the worst of the economic crisis that began in 2007 as being behind them.



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