Italy's poor doubled since 2007

The number of Italians living in “absolute poverty” has increased since the beginning of the current economic crisis by 99 per cent, according to a report by agricultural confederation Coldiretti published this week.

The results show that over 4.8 million Italians don’t have enough money to pay for goods and services which are “essential for living”. The figures have been extracted from data by national statistics institute Istat covering the past five years.

They also show that the crisis has hit central regions hardest: the increase in poverty-stricken households reached 112 per cent in the centre, 105 per cent in the north, and 90 per cent in the southern Mezzogiorno, where 2.35 million Italians are now in dire economic straits.

Since 2007, some 3.4 million Italians have dropped below the poverty level, so that now almost one in ten (eight per cent) find themselves in this category.

The main effect, Coldiretti say, has been to trigger a “historic” collapse of spending on essential goods such as foodstuffs. There are now 16.6 per cent of Italians unable to afford a meal with an adequate protein content at least once every two days.

Family spending on food has been set back by 20 years, the report claims. Although, as a trend, Italians spent more every year on food in the period following the privations of the second world war, reaching a peak of €129.5 bn in 2005, the figure has now dropped back to €117 bn, even less than the 1992 level. Immediate examples, say Coldiretti after analysing statistics from Ismea-Gfk Eurisko, are a further cut for the first six months of 2013 of four per cent in family spending on food, from extra virgin olive oil (-10 per cent), fish (-13 per cent), pasta (-10 per cent), milk (-7 per cent), fruit and vegetables (-3 per cent) and meat (-2 per cent).