Life is no longer so sweet in the land of “la dolce vita”, with a report finding that more than 11pc of Italian families now live in relative poverty.
By Nick Squires, in Rome
4:11PM BST 17 Jul 2012
Eight million Italians, out of a population of 60 million, are struggling to make ends meet, according to Istat, the national statistics agency on Tuesday.
Of those, 3.4 million are living in absolute poverty, representing 5.7 per cent of the population, up from 5.2 per cent in 2010.
The problem is worst in the sun-baked south, known as the Mezzogiorno, where one in four families now live below the poverty line.
The definition of absolute poverty is based on a basket of necessary goods and services, while relative poverty is measured by average household consumption.
The technocrat government of Mario Monti is implementing wide-ranging economic reforms to try to tackle the country’s 1.9 trillion euro (£1.5 trillion) national debt, including raising taxes and cutting public services, from hospitals to the armed forces.
The Monti government hopes to cut spending by
€25bn (£20bn) in the next three years, as it tries to rein in the euro zone’s second highest public debt.
As businesses struggle to survive or fail altogether, the overall level of unemployment has surpassed 10 per cent, while among young people aged 15 to 24 it has reached 35 per cent.
The Rome-based statistics agency threatened last week to stop publishing reports amid fears that it too had become a victim of the spending cuts.
Its budget has already been reduced by €29m over three years as part of austerity measures and is set to be cut by a further three million euros a year under government proposals made last week.
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