The ten richest people in Italy now own as much wealth as almost 500,000 working class families put together. A little less than two thousand wealthy Italians, members of the super-rich club, have total assets of more than €169 billion (excluding the value of property).
“The wealth gap has grown,” according to research centre Censis. It finds that a company executive owns 5.6 times more assets than a worker, compared to approximately three times twenty years ago. Those working in the liberal professions, like lawyers, doctors and accountants, are worth 4.5 times that of a worker (4 times twenty years ago). An entrepreneur is worth more than 3 times that of a worker (2.9 times twenty years ago). ”
And those with the least have lost the most over the past two decades. Compared to twelve years ago, the annual family incomes of blue collar workers have fallen in real terms by 17.9 %, those of white collar workers by 12% and those of employers by 3.7 %, while the incomes of executives have increased 1.5%.
How rich you are also affects your life in other ways, Censis found. Having children doubles the risk (15.7%) of ending up in debt over your mortgage, rent and utility bills, compared to couples without children (6.2%). For single parents the risk of ending up in poverty or debt increases by a third, compared to couples with children (26.2% vs 19.3%).
Regional inequalities are growing too. The risk of ending up in poverty for residents in the south of Italy (33.3%) is three times higher than those in the north (10.7%) and twice as much as those of central regions (15.5%). In the traditionally poorer mezzogiorno (18%) residents are also at almost double the risk of ending up in debt than in the north (10.4%) and five percentage points higher than those in the center (13%).
It may be significant that over the past twenty years examined by this research Italy has implemented a massive squeeze on public spending, large scale withdrawal of the state in the economy and privatisation, successive deregulatory labour reforms including the abolition of the indexation of wages to inflation (scala mobile) and ever closer integration into the EU, in particular giving up monetary and fiscal sovereignty to unelected officials in Brussels and Frankfurt.