Both household income, risk of poverty on rise in Italy: survey

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-07 05:36:41|Editor: yan
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ROME, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Families residing in Italy have seen their average income grow, but the risk of poverty and social exclusion in the country was also on the rise, a national report showed on Wednesday.

The National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) registered "on one hand, a relevant and widespread growth of the 2015 total household income at current and constant prices."

On the other, it detected "an increase, in 2016, of economic inequality and of population at risk of poverty or social exclusion."

According to the survey, the household mean net income reached 29,988 euros (about 35,410 U.S. dollars) in 2015, growing by 1.8 percent at current prices (and by 1.7 percent at constant prices) compared to 2014.

"The income growth was higher in the richest quintile of the population, mostly due to higher levels of self-employment income, recovering after several years of cyclical sharp decrease," ISTAT said.

Considering the families' average level of earnings, however, ISTAT stated about half of residing households got a net annual income not exceeding 24,522 euros in 2015, with a 1.4 percent rise against the previous year.

The median income grew more in Southern Italy -- which is averagely less developed than the northern regions -- "to an almost double extent compared to the national level (2.8 percent)," according to ISTAT. Yet, it remained at a much lower volume, averaging 20,557 euros.

The inequality index -- or Gini coefficient on equivalized disposable income, where zero indicates perfect equality -- was 33.1 in Italy in 2015, compared to 30.7 in the euro-zone.

The survey also confirmed that poverty and social exclusion have been on the rise in Italy, which has painfully recovered from its worst recession (between 2008 and 2013) after World War II.

Some 30 percent of people residing in the country were considered at risk of poverty or exclusion in 2016, compared to 28.7 percent in the previous year, ISTAT wrote in the survey.

It was a higher share compared to the average in the European Union (EU) in 2016, which was 23.5 percent, the report also noted.

The indicator increased in all of its components last year: more specifically, the share of people at risk of poverty rose to 20.6 percent from 19.9 percent in 2015, the share of severely deprived people to 12.8 percent from 11.5 percent, and that of people with low work intensity to 12.8 percent from 11.7 percent.

Southern Italy and major Islands (Sicily and Sardinia) remained the areas most exposed to the risk of poverty or social exclusion, as well as households with five of more members.

Yet, the risk also increased relevantly for families with one or two members (34.9 percent from 31.6 percent), and for singles (25.2 percent from 22.4 percent), ISTAT pointed out.

Earlier this year, previous ISTAT reports also showed the incidence of absolute poverty in terms of residing households grew to 6.3 percent in 2016 from 4.1 percent in 2006 and 2007 (before the economic crisis).

In August, the Italian cabinet introduced a new anti-poverty provision called "Income for Inclusion" (REI), which replaced other existing measures.

It might benefit between 500,000 and 700,000 families next year, according to a latest estimate by Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti.

Italian media reported that the contribution would be worth up to 485 euros per month for households with five or more members, if their combined annual income does not exceed 6,000 euros, and it would be paid for a maximum of 18 months at a time. (1 euro = 1.18 U.S. dollars)