Young people in Italy are increasingly poor

Young people in Italy are increasingly poor

Italy is not a country for young people. This expression was used by the Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in her speech in the Chamber for trust, but it is by looking at the data that the mortgaged future of many Italian boys takes shape. The generation gap has never been so wide: according to the Bruno Visentini Foundation, which has created an index to measure it, a new peak was recorded in 2020, confirming that young people are paying the highest price for the country's systemic crises ( if in 2006 the gap was at 100, it has now increased by 142 points).

Some variables that establish this condition are attributed primarily "to the lack of gender equality - reads the Foundation's 2021 Report - to the excessive burden of the pension system on the state accounts, but also to the income conditions, wealth and welfare, credit and savings (less and less) available to young people” . To this must be added a practically broken social elevator. A survey conducted by Caritas and included in the latest Poverty Report shows that of the 5.6 million absolute poor in 2021 in Italy, 6 out of 10 inherited this condition from their parents. Poverty in Italy, according to OECD data (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), has been handed down for 5 generations. A path of often insurmountable obstacles, sticky floors that prevent the most fragile from the mobility at the basis of a just and democratic society.

The wall and the tower

“Let's imagine the gap as a wall, which represents the set of all the obstacles that a young person has to face in order to reach the main stages that lead him to a autonomous life and personal and professional fulfillment – ​​explains Luciano Monti, professor at Luiss and scientific co-director of the Bruno Visentini Foundation -. We have been analyzing the intensity of these obstacles since 2006: starting from that year, the wall was one meter high and could have been jumped by almost anyone, then we moved on to a height of one meter and 30 in 2011, to then arrive at 2020 at one meter and 42”.

The wall of the generation gap therefore becomes insurmountable for most young people and those who jump over it are those who "have a family behind them, who study and achieve a degree or who are lucky enough to be born in a certain area of 'Italy” adds Monti. In fact, the height of the wall also depends on the place of birth: “If a boy was born in the South he is taller, the same goes for a girl than a boy. If we then have before us a girl who lives in an inland area of ​​Southern Italy this wall becomes a tower” .

But why do the crises in our country always have an asymmetrical generational impact that falls more on the younger age groups? “First of all because there is no structured youth policy, there is no strategy – Monti points out – We need an assessment of the generational impact for each provision presented to the Chamber and the Senate, as in the German and Austrian model. In Italy this sensitivity has always been lacking, no one thinks about the future impact” . Sporadic interventions, such as the culture bonus or the housing bonus are not enough: “Not seeing the future, young people do not invest, even if they have the concessions: they do not get into debt for a house for 25 years. Let us then think of the interventions for startups, where only 18% concern young people, the rest are created by former managers who have left other companies” .

There is no framework law

For young people, according to the Luiss professor, further facilitations for hiring or incentives for structural training would be needed, in short, long-term interventions: a framework law on young people and we need a pact for youth employment immediately, which among other things is one of the obligations contained in the 2030 Agenda. It is an agreement with the social partners to define a common and single strategy, which it also deals with mobility but also with the housing problem. Young people struggle to get a stable job, not permanent but decent: it is full of involuntary part-time jobs. The minimum salary does not allow mobility ".

There is therefore a lot of talk about young people but little materialisation: “A formidable opportunity has been lost: the youth pillar was envisaged in Brussels but it does not exist in our Pnrr (National Recovery and Resilience Plan, ed.) . Young people have been relegated to a transversal priority such as that of women and of the South, which still today is not understood how it will be monitored, because there are no targets that impose regular monitoring which then coincides with the disbursement of resources” .

By directly questioning the young people who still have to face those walls, i.e. the young people in high school, we can see how fleeing abroad is seen more and more as a solution to the swamp present in the country. Looking at the data on territorial mobility, of the 5,500 young people aged between 14 and 19 questioned via a form for the 2022 survey of the Visentini Foundation, to the question "Where do you see yourself living in 2030?" ”, more than 1 out of 4 answered outside Italy: “If the data were confirmed in the facts, we would be faced with a much more serious migratory flow of our young people than that recorded in recent years" .

If you are poor, stay poor

From the Report on poverty and social exclusion published not even a month ago by Caritas, one of the most shocking figures is the heredity of poverty: "Six people out of ten of the poor followed by Caritas come from families who have been in a state of economic fragility for some time - explains Federica De Lauso, editor of the Caritas Report - This figure is worrying because today in Italy, according to Istat, there are one million and 400 thousand children in a state of absolute poverty. If the emancipation process is strongly linked to the status of our ancestors, we are faced with an altered condition of the principles of equality enshrined in our Constitution. Poor mobility undermines equity and social justice".

It's not just a question of income but also, and perhaps above all, of education, says De Lauso: “There is a strong conditioning of the family of origin: those born to parents who have no more than an elementary school leaving certificate often stop at the middle school, those born to parents without educational qualifications remained in elementary school in one out of three cases. We're talking about people born between '66 and '86, not elderly people who are very old. This tells us that even public schools are unable to compensate for the initial differences, given that education is the main means of social mobility. Uneducated parents are in many cases less inclined to attach importance to studying and in some cases the conditions of economic fragility prevent extracurricular activities that can stimulate children and their performance" .

To break the chain, according to the researcher, the need for interventions that are not one-off is overwhelming: "Accompaniment cannot be sporadic, it requires synergies in the territory, and cannot be based only on income support, a systemic taking charge is needed, which starts from the education and arrivals at work inclusion” .

The NEET crisis

The outcomes of leaving middle school strongly depend on the education levels of the parents and if, in some cases, protocols are activated with social services against early school leaving, some of which with positive results   "unfortunately this is not always the case". The fact that all the experts are sounding the alarm about is child poverty.

“Since 2008 - says De Lauso - poverty affects more young people, especially minors and the under 34s, before it was exactly the opposite: it was the elderly and the over 65s who experienced the highest incidence of poverty. The crisis is being paid for by young people who cannot find work or find it precarious, who are experiencing downward mobility. Istat tells us that for those born in the 1980s the share of those who experience downward mobility exceeds that of those who experience upward mobility and the entry salaries of today's young people are lower than those of their parents" . In this sense, it should come as no surprise that Italy is the European country with the highest number of NEETs, i.e. young people aged between 15 and 29 (up to 34 in Italy) who do not work, study and are not in vocational training. According to a photograph taken by ActionAid and CGIL in the Neet Report between inequalities and gaps. More than 3 million are looking for new public policies in 2020, with a female prevalence of 1.7 million.

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