Rome: Italians’ perception of their economic prospects has steadily declined in recent years, according to a new report released by the national institute of statistics (ISTAT).
The “Equitable and Sustainable Welfare Report” shows that the percentage of Italians who say their economic situation is worse than it was a year ago rose more than ten percentage points between 2019 and 2022, reaching 35.1 per cent, reports Xinhua news agency.
It is the first time the figure has risen above the level of 1 in 3 Italians, said the 10th edition of the report, designed as a tool for policymakers.
Italians have struggled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, then suffered from record levels of inflation sparked by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. However, optimism has declined most recently, said ISTAT researcher Alessandra Tinto.
“This reverses the trend of progressive growth of the optimistic view of the future,” Tinto said, adding that even during the pandemic, levels of optimism were maintained.
The drop in Italian optimism comes despite indications that the country’s economy is performing better than expected from a macroeconomic perspective.
According to the head of the Bank of Italy’s economic statistics department, economic data is mostly pointing upward.
“The short-term outlook appears slightly more favourable with respect to that of our latest projections, which were published in January,” Nicoletti Altimari told a Senate hearing on Thursday.
However, this does not appear to be enough to balance out the cumulative impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Covid-19 claimed at least 189,000 lives in Italy, and caused a 9 per cent economic contraction in 2020.
Subsequently, the higher energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine pushed prices 8.7 percent higher in 2022 — the highest year-on-year increase since Italy adopted the euro currency in 1999.
Of the 12 sustainable welfare categories monitored by ISTAT, only five — security, public services, work prospects, political stability, and innovation — improved at least slightly between 2019 and 2022.
Other categories, including the state of the environment, health, economic well-being, social relations, and subjective well-being all saw marked declines.
Poverty levels have increased in Italy since 2019, while household spending has declined, and the general economic climate has eroded.