Italy Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

The unification of Italy in 1861 did not create a tangible feeling for the nation, leaving traces to this day. Most citizens feel primarily connected with their home region and then with their province or region, but a stronger Italian identity has gradually emerged in recent decades.

Income and education are clear class markers. In the individual workplace, the differences are large between the academic and the one with simpler education. At the same time, more respect, regardless of social class, is shown to older people than is the case in, for example, Sweden. At the bottom of the social ladder is the growing number of immigrants from poor countries. According to Amnesty International, immigrant labor is being used in an unacceptable way in Italy, including low wages or no wages at all. Racism is also a problem, according to Amnesty.

The economic crisis in the 2010s hit hard on the Italians and the proportion of poor people has grown to around 10 percent of the population. Poverty is greatest among immigrants and in rural areas in the south.

italy population

Welfare system under pressure

The Italian welfare system, which began to develop in the 1930s, today includes, among other things, parental benefit, health insurance, child benefits, social assistance, unemployment benefits and pensions. However, the economic crisis of recent years has led to considerable savings within the system. Above all, the pension system has deteriorated.

In the past, pensions ate up most of the welfare budget. Full pension was given from the age of 60, while the person wishing to quit at 57 but with a lower pension. Now the retirement age is rising to 66 years and seven months for both women and men. The reform, which would be implemented in 2018, has been surrounded by fierce political strife and led to extensive demonstrations.

The right-wing populist coalition government included in the budget for 2019 a seven-billion-euro item for a special national salary for the poorest groups in the country. Individual residents will be able to receive between EUR 40 and 780 per month in housing and income support. Families with a lower total annual income than EUR 100,000 will be able to receive up to EUR 1,300. To receive a grant, those who are of working age must participate in job training and accept yes to job offers. Companies that employ a person with a national salary will be able to deduct the employer’s contributions.

The health care is organized at regional level, and the municipalities are responsible for health centers with GPs. In principle, public health care is free of charge, but in connection with budget cuts in recent years, income-related fees have been introduced in specialist care. Visits to the house doctor and emergency medical care are free.

Public care is not always top-notch, and those who can afford it often choose private insurance and private care.

The social security system is funded by social security contributions paid by employers and all employees. The employers are the lion’s share. The amount of contributions paid depends on the amount of payments made in each case. However, even those who have never worked are entitled to a small pension. Health care is financed through the tax system.

Family life

Family ties are strong in Italy. In the north, the nuclear family dominates, but in the south and in the countryside, in many cases, the oldest generation, as well as close relatives, lives under the same roof as the nuclear family. Traditionally, the husband is regarded as the head of the family but in practice the wife, who has daily contact with the children and controls most of the home, has a strong position in the family.

In families where both gainful employment, an older relative often takes care of the children, since fewer than a tenth of the smaller children have a place at preschool.

Italian children are expected to help more in the household than is the case in Sweden. If the family runs a shop or some other small business, the children often help there from the age of ten.

The family often hangs out at leisure, meets relatives, takes evening strolls or goes to a restaurant, especially on Sundays. Older children often go to the local square on their own in the evenings to meet peers. The young people usually live at home until they get married, and many people then look for a home near the parents’ home.

Only at the beginning of 2016 and after a protracted political struggle was a law passed that opened for same-sex partnerships. However, the spouses do not have the right to adopt each other’s children.


Infant Mortality: 3 per 1000 births (2018)

Percentage of HIV infected: 0.3 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young women

0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 100.0 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 98.8 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 9.0 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: 2,739 US dollars (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 36 percent (2018)



New savings plan is adopted

November 22

The new government decides on savings measures of EUR 33 billion, including tax increases and deregulations. The property tax is reintroduced and gasoline tax and VAT are increased. The savings plan is approved by Parliament.


Expert government is added

November 13

The economist and former EU Commissioner Mario Monti is appointed new head of government for an expert government, without party politicians, where he himself becomes prime minister and finance minister. Monti is supported in Parliament by both the right and the left. The Senate approves the government with a record majority, 281 votes against 25, and in the Chamber of Deputies the numbers are 556 against 61.

Berlusconi leaves

November 12

Under both domestic and foreign political pressure, Berlusconi promises to step down and President Napolitano initiates negotiations for a new government.

The economic crisis deepens

Government debt is approaching € 2 billion, which corresponds to 120 percent of GDP, and worries are rising in the EU to prevent the Italian government from meeting the country’s debt problems. The IMF and the EU demand quarterly monitoring of Italy’s budgetary measures, Europe’s stock exchanges fall, and interest rates on ten-year Italian government bonds set a record. Parliament approves new savings measures.


Berlusconis is acquitted

October 18

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is acquitted of a charge of fraud and embezzlement surrounding his broadcaster Mediaset.


Strike for savings

September 14

Several millions of Italians participate in a one-day strike against the government’s savings package and labor market reform. The Senate approves austerity measures for € 54.2 billion, but Italy still gets the credit rating lowered by credit rating agency Standard & Poors.


Increased saving rate

Following severe market pressure and speculation about the Italian debt crisis, the government is forced to accelerate economic reforms and promise to balance the budget as early as 2013 instead of the old target in 2014. The European Central Bank guarantees the purchase of Italian government bonds, allowing the government to sell them and meet budget expenditures. The government disagrees but announces a large savings package. About 50,000 public jobs are expected to disappear, and a solidarity tax is imposed on high incomes.

The refugee stream is increasing

Thousands of boat refugees continue to arrive on the island of Lampedusa. 25 people are found dead in the engine room of a Libyan refugee boat, and on another boat, refugees testify that hundreds of people died during the trip and left in the sea.


The IMF is pushing for savings

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) calls on the Italian government to push through planned budget cuts following speculation that Italy could be the next victim of the eurozone debt crisis. The government decides on tightening of € 48 billion with the aim of reaching the budget balance in 2014. Parliament approves the proposal, which includes privatization of state-owned enterprises and freezing of public wages. A controversial feature is reduced tax deductions for families.

Judgment against Berlusconi

An appeal court in Milan convicts Prime Minister Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest to pay EUR 560 million in damages to the competing media company CIR following a contentious deal in 1990. The ruling establishes an earlier verdict.


Defeat in referendum

June 12

The Berlusconi government is facing the people’s verdict, when a referendum is held on nuclear power and whether ministers should be granted immunity from prosecution. The government loses in all matters. 94 percent say no to reintroducing nuclear power.


The government loses local elections

Prime Minister Berlusconi suffers a severe political setback when his party coalition, after 18 years, loses power to the left in his home city of Milan’s local elections. Even in Naples, Berlusconi’s party friends are losing power.


Time for criminal cases is reduced

After a heated political debate in Italy, Parliament’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, decides to shorten the time that certain criminal cases can go on. This means that a trial in which Berlusconi is accused of bribery may be finalized before a verdict is dropped.

Berlusconi before the court for sex purchases

April 6

Prime Minister Berlusconi is facing trial accused of having paid for sex with a minor nightclub dancer and for abusing his position as prime minister. Berlusconi is alleged to have exploited a 17-year-old Moroccan who participated in parties at the Prime Minister’s Villa for payment. According to Berlusconi, the charges are unfounded, but the political opposition demands that he resign.


Berlusconi is on trial

Berlusconi appears in a lawsuit where he himself is prosecuted. The prosecution concerns corruption in his media company Mediatrade.

The refugee stream is increasing

Tunisian migrants are being followed by refugees from the war in Libya, and the refugee issue is creating political strife in the government, where the Confederation of North warns against mass invasion. Many of the refugees arrive on the island of Lampedusa. Berlusconi travels to the island to calm the locals.

Increased power for the regions

Parliament adopts a disputed tax package that involves decentralizing power to the regions; The change is a requirement from Berlusconi’s coalition partner Förbund Nord.


Refugee wave from North Africa begins

The political turmoil in Tunisia causes thousands of Tunisians to cross the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa, where the authorities cannot handle the situation. Italy requires EU support.

Women against Berlusconi

February 13

Hundreds of thousands of women are demonstrating throughout Italy for women’s dignity and against Berlusconi’s view of women, which is described as part of a major Italian social problem.


The road opens for prosecution against Berlusconi

January 13

The Constitutional Court declares that judges must decide on a case-by-case basis whether a minister should be forced to stand trial. This means that Berlusconi no longer has immunity from prosecution and can be brought to justice for tax fraud and bribery.