Italy’s younger generation is no longer doing better than its parents. And the culprit is austerity. A new report by official statistics agency Istat, ‘Rapporto Annuale 2012’, highlights this trend. It showed:
- A third of those born in 1970-1984 found themselves, on their first job, in a lower social class than their parents and just one sixth improved their position relative to the previous generation
- Today’s 25-40 year olds are the first born during the course of the 1900s are failing to improve their social class compared to their parents
- The difficulties faced in rising up the class ladder affect offspring from middle class as well as working class homes
- In the past decade family ties remain important but with those from low income households struggling more than the better off to improve on the social position of their parents.
In a time of low growth (since the mid 1990s) or economic contraction (since 2008) there are fewer jobs with middle to high status and financial rewards. And, as the research shows, these jobs are increasingly being held by older people, forcing younger people to take positions that are economic and socially unattractive. Recent pension reforms designed to cut government spending will add to this problem as they increase the retirement age.
Downward social mobility is going hand in hand with increasing levels of education, implying a greater waste of Italian society’s ‘human resources’ than was seen in previous generations and a widening the gap between aspirations and reality, the report finds. Together with today’s mass unemployment among the youth and a widening of wealth inequalities, this will create the conditions for serious social unrest.
The report confirms a trend that has been noted by experts since the middle of the 1990s when the first huge austerity budgets were passed in Italy, slashing economic growth, and as far back as the mid 1970s when the politicians responded to economic crisis by curtailing public spending.