Synthesis 2013 > Italy

Italy 2013

In Italy, people remain extremely preoccupied and vulnerable, but some encouraging signs are there, when comparing the results to last year’s.

The level of concern of Italians remains very high but has slightly decreased

Italians remain extremely preoccupied when it comes to various aspects of their lives: the economic (and political) crisis in Italy still clearly impacts perceptions. Italians remain indeed more worried than the European average by each of the seventeen risks tested that can affect someone’s health, property or family members (ranging from the death of a member of the household to a possible loss of autonomy or the theft of one’s car). Each of these risks is as well a source of concern to a majority of Italians, from the possibility of a divorce or separation (53% compared to 38% on average) to the death of a member of the household (92% compared to 76% on average).
However, the level of concern of Italians has slightly decreased in almost all the dimensions tested (15 out of 17 risks). The decrease is especially significant when it comes to the least severe of these risks, for example a temporary incapacity (73%; -13 points compared to last year).

The fear of unemployment remains very high in Italy and is still considered the most worrying risk (47% cite it among the 3 most worrying risks compared to 38% for the European average), more than financial risks (41%) or medical risks (39%) which are on average usually considered more worrying. However, Italians this year tend to cite less the risk of unemployment (-3 points). Their feeling of insecurity seems to have slightly decreased: they are also much less citing the risk of being mugged or robbed (27%; -8).
Italians remain however much more concerned than the average by the possibility of losing their job (82% compared to 56% for the European average) or their spouse/partner losing his/her job (66% compared to 49%).

A sense of vulnerability still high but less severe than last year

Compared to 5 years ago (and compared to other Europeans), Italian citizens feel this year again more vulnerable towards a series of risks: experiencing financial difficulties (76% consider they are more at risk today, compared to 62% for the European average), being plunged into a precarious situation (69%; compared to 59% on average), losing their job (64% compared to 51%) or even experiencing family-related difficulties, like a divorce or disputes (39% compared to 33% on average). A large majority also considers they are less well protected against these risks than 5 years ago (69% compared to 40% on average).

However, this sense of vulnerability has decreased compared to last year: -8 points when it comes to the risk of experiencing financial difficulties, -7 points for the risk of experiencing a precarious situation, -5 points for the risk of unemployment and even -3 points for the risk of experiencing family-related difficulties.

A failing welfare system

Nevertheless, in the current context, only 23% of the Italian population considers that their national welfare system works well (even less than the 43% European average). A large majority considers on the contrary that it works poorly (77% including 26% who even consider it works “very poorly”). Polish respondents are the only ones who have a more severe opinion of their welfare system than Italians (86% of negative opinions in Poland). Even Spanish citizens are more positive about their current system.
More than three Italians out of four also consider that they contribute more to the social welfare system of their country than they benefit from it (78% compared to 68% on average), another way to show they consider the system ineffective.

It is therefore no surprise that 76% of the Italian population consider their country less advanced than its European neighbours when it comes to social welfare. Among them, almost one Italian in two even considers Italy is in this regard “much less advanced” (46%). As a consequence, 97% of the Italian population consider the Italian welfare system should be reformed (including 69% who believe it must be “extensively” reformed).

Italians appear resigned to new cuts in the public spending when it comes to social welfare: although a majority considers the state should raise its level of assistance, they anticipate more efforts to come. About two third of them consider indeed the public sector in Italy will lower levels of support when it comes to family assistance (67% compared to 57% for the European average), retirement pensions (69% compared to 52%), inability to care for oneself (67% compared to 48%), disability (65% compared to 48%), assistance for the neediest (67% compared to 50%), unemployment benefits (66% compared to 53%), optical and dental treatment or care (71% compared to 52%), hospitalization (70% compared to 53%) or reimbursement of medication and medical examinations (73% compared to 57%).

A majority of Italian citizens consider that the state will in the coming years play an ever smaller role when it comes to social welfare (56% compared to 49% on average), solidarities depending increasingly on families (53% consider they will have an ever larger role in social welfare, 59% on average) and private and mutual insurance companies (60%, so as the European average).

Italians remain however convinced that in an effective model of social welfare, the State has an important role to play (85% think so including 32% who consider it should have the biggest role). While they see the protecting capacity of the State fading, Italians reaffirm that the models of protection from risk that best meet their current expectations are the ones that follow the principle of solidarity: a model in which people pay according to their means, the richer paying more than the poorer (53% cite it among the 3 preferred models; 52% on average) and one in which destitute, who cannot pay for protection, are also covered (48%; 46% on average). A model in which every effort is made to balance the budget by offsetting expenses and benefits comes only in fourth position (29% compared to 33%).

In this context, risk-taking still appears dangerous but Italians seem much more eager this year to try their luck

The level of concern and feeling of vulnerability of Italians being high, risk is still without surprise considered by a majority as a danger to be avoided (59%, so as the European average).
However, Italians consider at the same time much more than last year that risk-taking is necessary: 50% (+23) think indeed that in order to be successful, it’s better to take a lot of risks; and 54% (+8) consider that young people should be taught that in life, you have to be able to take risks, even if you end up paying the price of failing.

This renewed appeal of risk-taking in Italy looks a lot like a return of confidence.

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