In an attempt to tackle Italy’s whopping 1.9 trillion euro national debt Mario Monti’s government is planning to raise taxes and make cuts to public services.
Making cuts to healthcare and the armed forces are just part of the host of economic reforms to be implemented by a government hoping to cut spending by 25 billion euro’s over the course of the next three years.
But what does living in a country with the euro zone’s second highest public debt really mean?
Well, back in May the Italian unemployment rate was reported at 10.1 per cent, which was a significant increase of 4.2 per cent over five years. Among the post education age group of 15-24 the unemployment percentage jumped to 35 per cent. Businesses are continuing to struggle, and many could face closure after the proposed economic reforms come into being.
Now, a recent report by Rome based national statistics agency Istat has stated that out of a population of 60 million there are a staggering 8 million Italians living in conditions of relative poverty (assessed using average household consumption). Nearly half of these, 3.4 million, would be considered as living in absolute poverty (based on the assessment of a basket of necessary goods and services).
That’s 5.7 percent of the population.
Last week Istat expressed fears that the statistics agency itself had fallen victim to the spending cuts after government proposals set a 3 million euro a year cutting level. Over the past three years Istat’s budget has already been cut by 29 million euro’s. This latest data release from them was published after the agency threatened to stop compiling reports.
In Mezzogiorno, a region in the sunny south, the worst of the poverty problem can be seen. A quarter of Mezzogiorno families are now living below the poverty line.
These figures are shocking, but as the euro-zone crisis limps ever onwards the amount of families struggling to make ends meet in all effected countries can only continue to rise.