In our country, absolute poverty is stable and largely confirms the historical highs reached in 2020, the year the Covid-19 pandemic began. According to the definitive estimates of the National Institute of Statistics, collected in the report released on 15 June last year, just over 1.9 million households in absolute poverty in 2021 (with an incidence of 7.5%), totalling about 5.6 million people (9.4%), stable values compared to 2020 when the incidence reached its historical highs and was 7.7% and 9.4% respectively.
"The cause of this substantial stability," the report explains, "can be attributed to several factors; in particular, to a smaller increase in the consumer spending of the poorest households (+1.7% for the 20% of households with the lowest spending capacity, i.e. almost all households in absolute poverty), which was not sufficient to compensate for the upturn in inflation (+1.9% in 2021), in the absence of which the share of households in absolute poverty would have fallen to 7.0% and that of individuals to 8.8%."
The data reveal that in 2021, the incidence of households in absolute poverty is higher in the South (10.0%, up from 9.4% in 2020), while it drops significantly in the North (6.7% from 7.6%), particularly in the Northwest (6.7% from 7.9%). Among poor households, 42.2% live in the South (38.6% in 2020), and 42.6% in the North (47% in 2020). The proportion recorded in 2019, when poor households in our country were distributed almost equally between North and South, is thus restored.
The report highlights, among other things, the worsening of the condition of families with a greater number of members: the incidence of absolute poverty reaches 22.6% among those with five or more persons and 11.6% among those with four; signs of improvement come from households of three (from 8.5% to 7.1%) and of two (from 5.7% to 5.0%). The hardship is more acute for families with underage children, whose incidence rises from 8.1% of families with only one child under 18 to 22.8% of those with three or more children. High values are also recorded for couples with three or more children (20.0%) and for households of other types, where several households often live together (16.3%).
The plight of childhood is always very critical. In fact,absolute poverty in Italy affects one million 382,000 children (14.2%, compared to 9.4% nationwide). The incidence varies from 11.4% in the Centre to 16.1% in the South. When compared with 2020, the conditions for children are stable nationwide, except for the worsening recorded for children aged 4 to 6 (15.4% from 12.8%), particularly in the Central area, where, in the same age group, the incidence rises to 13.2% from 8.3% (in general, the incidence for the under-18s in the Central area worsens to 11.4% from 9.5%). Although substantially stable, the other values remain far from those recorded in 2019.
There are almost 762,000 households in absolute poverty with children, with an incidence of 12.1% (stable compared to 2020).
"The incidence of poverty among households with children," reads the document, "varies greatly depending on the employment status and occupational position of the relevant person: 9.5% if employed (16.1% if a worker) and 23.3% if not employed (27.2% if seeking employment). Citizenship plays an important role in determining the socio-economic status of the family. The absolute poverty rate for families with children composed only of Italians stands at 8.3%, while it increases to 36.2% (from 28.6% in 2020) for families with children composed only of foreigners, and rises to 30.7% in the case of families with children with at least one foreigner, two and a half times the average value for families with children."
Also on the increase is the incidence of relative poverty. The number of households in this position is in fact about 2.9 million (11.1%, compared to 10.1% in 2020), totalling almost 8.8 million people (14.8%, compared to 13.5%). Compared to 2020, the incidence of relative household poverty increases notably in the South, where it rises to 20.8% from 18.3% in 2020; there is also a significant growth in the incidence of the phenomenon at the individual level, both on the national average (back to 2019 levels when it was 14.7%) and, in particular, in the South (from 22.6% in 2020 to 25.3% in 2021) and in the Central area (from 8.9% in 2020 to 10.0% in 2021).
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