Presentation  Presentation  


Where Veneto is heading: new mobility patterns

Veneto: sharing facts

Chapter 1

The cycles and structure of the economic system
The current situation
The mobility of the economic system
The figures tell the story

Chapter 2

Trade and corporate mobility
Imports and exports
Veneto's mobile businesses
The figures tell the story

Chapter 3

Production trends
The situation for businesses
Restructuring of sectors
Corporate mobility: innovation and survival
Local trends
The figures tell the story

Chapter 4

The various facets of mobility
Real mobility
Virtual mobility
Mobility for healthcare
The figures tell the story

Chapter 5

Labour: changing market
The many facets of employment
Worker flexibility
The figures tell the story

Chapter 6

Social competition: inherited advantages and new opportunities
Changes in social classes
Making a move towards equality
The figures tell the story

Chapter 7

The centres of development of human capital
Choice of secondary school
The appeal of university
Regional mobility
The figures tell the story

Chapter 8

The migrant population from past to present
The figures tell the story

Chapter 9

Culture in Veneto
Mobility of cultural heritage
Live entertainment
The figures tell the story

Chapter 10

Tourism and tourist flows
New trends
Veneto residents on holiday
The Veneto tourism economy
The figures tell the story

Chapter 11

Mobility within agriculture
The evolution of Veneto agriculture
The guarantees of Veneto's food system
The figures tell the story

Chapter 12

Forests: the mobility of Veneto's deep-rooted heritage
The figures tell the story

Veneto: comparing facts

Chapter 13

Veneto and its provinces

Chapter 14

Veneto, its competitors and European regions

6.2 Making a move towards equality

As already mentioned, the degree of mobility between classes shows that over time there is the possibility of improving one's social and economic condition and making progress, thereby overcoming any hardship and difficulties. Promoting social mobility, therefore, can be a way to overcome this inequality.
In general, high levels of inequality are more tolerated if a society is open and able to guarantee everybody the same opportunities for social improvement. In this sense, when compared to other countries, the situation in Italy seems less favourable, as limited social mobility goes hand in hand with greater levels of inequality, also in terms of income.
On the Gini index (Note 1), concerning income across families in 2007, the figure for Italy is 0.32 compared with 0.30 for Europe as a whole. If the original 15 Member States alone are considered, this is one of the highest levels of income inequality in Europe, lower only than Portugal. It is not surprising that Northern European countries, which are socially more mobile, have a more equal income distribution. In Sweden, the richest 20% of families have a total income which is three times higher than that of the poorest 20%. In Italy this share is almost double (5.5), higher even than the European average (4.8). (Figure 6.2.1)
A recent analysis of family wealth, carried out by a Bank of Italy researcher (Note 2), also depicts an Italian society in which the wealthy remain wealthy and the poor find it difficult to overcome their condition. In the nine years from 1995 to 2004, only 13% of the families studied had improved their financial situation and in around 11% of cases there was even a decline. The already limited mobility has gradually decreased over time and it has been impossible to close the gap between the more advantaged and less fortunate classes.
Inequality in Veneto is lower, and only Friuli Venezia Giulia and Trentino Alto Adige boast greater equality. This is particularly encouraging when considered along with the fact that on average Veneto families have higher incomes than other Italians (the average annual income of Veneto families is 30,151 euro, around 2,500 euro a month, compared to the national average of 28,552 euro ). (Figure 6.2.2)
Given the higher incomes and more equal distribution of salaries, it is not surprising that on average people in Veneto feel more satisfied with their financial situation. In 2008 49% of people over the age of 14 claimed that they were very or quite satisfied, over 5% above the national average. However, although more up-to-date statistics which take into account the effects of the recent economic crisis are not yet available, there are signs of concern. Compared to the previous year, the level of general satisfaction has fallen, with 43% of families claiming that their financial situation has slightly and, in some cases, considerably worsened (18%). (Figure 6.2.3)

Top  Hardship and poverty

Where there is social and financial inequality, it is not so much the existence of different situations that is worrying, as the gap between them and the living conditions of the poorest people.
Poverty is a multi-faceted, insidious phenomenon with varying degrees of seriousness. The most extreme cases, such as those of the homeless or those struck by famine in forgotten Third World countries, hardly affect us as we see other forms of generally less serious hardship and deprivation. The recent crisis has also contributed to the increase in financial and social difficulties, particularly among manual labourers, white collar workers and pensioners, whose share of value added generated by enterprises has decreased.
Europe, where economic and social inequality is less striking than in other parts of the world, has to deal with a worrying situation in which millions risk poverty. Persistent poverty is more worrying than widespread occasional outbreaks, as it highlights the problems that families have in overcoming their poverty.
According to Eurostat estimates (Note 3), in 2007 one fifth of the population in Italy was at risk of poverty, not a negligible proportion, considerably higher than the European average (16% in the 25 EU Member States) and the second highest, along with Greece and Spain. This would be even more worrying were there no forms of social security or adequate aid provided by the State. Compared to the EU average, however, in Italy the effect of public transfer is, on the whole, less effective. Without any form of social security (including pensions) 43% of the population in Europe and Italy would live below the poverty line; in Italy after every form of transfer this drops to 20%, while in Europe it drops to 16%, 4% less.
The demographical structure of Italy can account for the nature of its social system, which is still strongly oriented towards social security as the main form of income supplement. Pensions alone contribute to greatly reducing the incidence of poverty by almost 20%, from 43% to 24%, 2% higher than the European average. The remaining contribution of other social transfers is one of the lowest in Europe in terms of its ability to reduce the risk of poverty. It is no higher than 17%, whereas in Northern Europe it brings about a 50%-60% reduction. (Figure 6.2.4)
On a national level, for years Istat has been proposing another means of measuring relative poverty, resulting in estimates for each region. It refers to average expenditure per family, rather than sufficiency of income, considering as poor families that spend below a certain threshold. In 2007 this was set at 986.35 euro for a two-person family (Note 4).
Even though these data cannot be compared with those for other European countries, they enable the evaluation of economic hardship of Italian families and of the evolution of this over time. Following this methodology, over the last five years, aside from short-term variations, the relative level of poverty in Italy has essentially remained stable. This highlights an extremely uneven situation across the country, with a considerable imbalance between the regions of the South, where levels of relative poverty in 2007 affected 22.5% of families, and the regions of the Centre and North, which are at much lower risk (6.4% in the Centre and 5.5% in the North. In Italy, 11.1% of families and 12.8% of people live below the poverty line. The figure for Veneto is 3.3% of families, one of the lowest in Italy and in line with that of the previous year (Note 5).
Both education and type of employment are important factors in preventing and combating the risk of poverty. In fact poverty is considerably higher amongst those who have a low level of education, the unemployed, and also amongst the working poor. Nationally, 13.9% of families in which the main earner is a manual labourer are poor, compared with 5.4% of those in which the main earner is a white-collar worker or a manager, and 6.3% in which the main earner is self-employed.
But even those who are not classified as poor, simply because their income or expenses are higher than the set thresholds, may have to reduce or limit spending. For example, according to ISAE (Note 6), one-person families claim to need around 1,300 euro, and couples 1,800 euro, to lead a dignified lifestyle, that is one without luxuries but without having to deny themselves basic essentials (Note 7).
In many cases, families not only have to go without a holiday or the purchase of durable goods, they face more serious daily difficulties, such as not being able to eat a decent meal every day, adequately run their own household, pay bills on time or cope with unexpected expenses without going into debt. In 2005 in Europe, 38% of the total population had to deal with at least one of these problems and in 73% of cases they were people whose income was above the poverty line. In Italy, fewer people (33%) claim to have faced difficulty, and fewer were not in the category of poor families (63%).
On a regional level, such an indicator of hardship is not currently available. However, it is possible to make an analysis by taking into account specific indicators for each difficulty which families declare they have faced. Provisional estimates confirm a higher general level of well-being for Veneto families, who claim to experience economic hardship less frequently than in other regions. However, compared to the previous year, there has been a slight rise in the number of families who find it difficult to make it to the end of the month, those who are unable to heat their homes sufficiently, and who do not have the money for medical expenses or the purchase of food.
Poverty is a multi-faceted phenomenon with varying degrees of severity: official statistics need to be analysed further and then interpreted, because in the commendable intention of simplifying and making such a complex phenomenon clear, there is the risk of overlooking significant aspects of the situation. (Figure 6.2.5)

Figure 6.2.1
Income distribution: Gini index and income inequality index for EU25 countries - Year 2007
Figure 6.2.2
Average net family income and Gini index per region - Year 2006
Figure 6.2.3
Percentage of people aged 14 years and over by degree of satisfaction with economic situation. Veneto and Italy - Years 2007 and 2008
Figure 6.2.4
Risk of poverty in EU25 countries before and after social transfer - Year 2007
Figure 6.2.5
Indicators of economic hardship (percentage of families). Veneto and Italy - Years 2006 and 2007

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Data processed by the Statistics Office of Regione Veneto are collective property; reproduction of this material is authorised for non-commercial purposes only, provided the source "Regione Veneto - Regional Statistics System Management" is acknowledged.
English translation by the University of Padova Language Centre.