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Almost half of Italy's wealth owned by richest 10%

Family incomes eroded, poverty up in 2010-2012 says central bank

27 January, 20:08
Almost half of Italy's wealth owned by richest 10% (By Stefania Fumo) (ANSA) - Rome, January 27 - Between 2010 and 2012, low- and middle-income families in recession-battered Italy have seen their quality of life eroded along with their incomes while the richest have gotten richer, according to a biannual study on family finances released Monday by the Bank of Italy.

Poverty rose from 14% in 2010 to 16% in 2012 amid Italy's worst postwar recession, with almost half of Italian families living on less than 2,000 euros a month, the central bank report said.

Also in 2012, the richest 10% owned 46.6% of the country's total net worth, up from 45.7% in 2010 and equal to a 64% concentration of wealth, according to the report.

Only 50% of households have annual incomes higher than 24,590 euros, while 20% of them cope with annual incomes of less than 14,457 euros, or roughly 1,200 euros per month.

Just 10% of families make more than 55,211 euros per year, the Bank of Italy said.

Individuals making up to 7,678 euros a year and families of three with yearly income of up to 15,300 euros fall below the poverty line, according to the Bank of Italy.

The number of poor families rose from 2.8% in 2010 to 4.1% in 2012, while in the same two years, average family income dropped by 7.3% and average wealth rose by 6.9%.

One in three people living below the poverty line is an immigrant, the central bank added.

The Coldiretti farmers' association commented on the Bank of Italy report by citing its own 2013 family survey data that said last year, more than two in three Italians severely cut their budgets due to falling family incomes, with 68% giving up on new clothes, 53% eschewing travel and holidays, 49% renouncing bars, clubs, and eating out, 35% cutting down on cultural activities, and 29% giving up on sports and going to the gym. The outlook on 2014 remains negative, with 51% of respondents saying they believe their situation is not likely to change this year, 35% saying they think it will get worse, and just 14% of families saying it will improve, Coldiretti said.

''Millions of Italians are being forced to live in conditions of economic and social inequality, and this is a cause for concern'', said small and medium-sized business association Confesercenti President Massimo Vivoli.

''Today's (Bank of Italy) data confirms the situation of economic and social stagnation caused by the recession and excessive taxation to the detriment of economic and welfare policies''.

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Enrico Letta said Italy is pulling out of the recession, with GDP expected to grow by 1% this year.