Despite the fact the Italian economy is showing few encouraging signs, the recovery of the country remains fragile. The impact of the crisis on Italian minds is still visible: the feeling of vulnerability of Italians remains very high, so as their feeling of social decline. In this context, the rise of collaborative consumption practices appears as an answer to the economic crisis and as a vector of a much-needed solidarity.
Despite the fact the Italian growth has been positive in the first quarter of 2015 (+0.3%), Italians still feel more vulnerable than the average Europeans. They especially feel more at risk than 5 years ago to experience financial difficulties (77% compared to 59% for the European average), to be plunged into a precarious situation (69% compared to 53%) or even to lose their job (59% compared to 44%). The feeling of vulnerability towards financial difficulties or even poverty is even higher in South Italy (South and Islands): in the Islands for example, 75% feel more at risk to experience a precarious situation (compared to 65% in the North).
Although these levels of concern remain high (and much higher than the European average), they are lower than what was witnessed in 2012: -7 points regarding the risk of financial difficulties, -7 points regarding the risk of being plunged into a precarious situation and -10 points when it comes to the risk of unemployment. The level of fears especially declined between 2012 and 2013, but remained rather stable between 2013 and 2015, except for the risk of unemployment, which continued to decline within the last 2 years (-5 points between 2013 and 2015). The fear of unemployment remains however strong in Italy: this risk ranks second in the country among the most worrying ones (after health risks, including the loss of autonomy) whereas unemployment ranks 4th for the European average (after health risks, financial risks and road risks). This fear is especially high among young Italians (42% of Italians below 35 y.o. cite this risk among the 3 that worry them the most, compared to 37% on average).
This feeling of vulnerability is heightened by the fact a large majority of Italians consider they are less well protected against these risks than 5 years ago (67% compared to 41% on average). Despite the fact this opinion has slightly declined since 2012 (73% found they were less well protected), this score remains by far the highest in Europe. Italians are also the Europeans who believe the most that their social situation is worse than their parents’ when they were their age (60% think so compared to 40% on average). Once again, this opinion has declined (-7 points compared to 2013) but remains very strong.
Italians feeling very vulnerable towards various risks, a majority of them logically consider risk as a danger to be avoided (63% compared to 60% on average) rather than something exciting (37% compared to 40% on average).
However, Italians increasingly consider that to be successful, it’s better to take a lot of risks (52% compared to 48% on average; +2 points compared to 2013 and +25 compared to 2012). This opinion is especially shared by young Italians, people with good income and educational background as well as Italians living in the North. At the same time, a large majority of Italians also consider they themselves take risks (65% compared to 61% on average), and this feeling is slowly spreading (+2 points compared to 2013, +4 points compared to 2012).
A large majority of Italians have observed the development of collaborative consumption in their country: 68% of the Italian population (compared to 64% on average) have witnessed the rise of these new collaborative practices (renting, lending, exchanging knowledge between private individuals, car-sharing, exchanging homes…).
In a growing number of fields, private property is no more a must. A majority of Italian people now even prefer borrowing or hiring a second home (69% compared to 65% for the European average) than owning it. However, owning one’s main residence or car is still largely preferred (93% prefer owning their main home and 92% their car).
For the last 5 years, Italian people have especially more often opted to buy things second hand (46% have done this more often, compared to 39% on average), to borrow them (35% compared to 27%), to exchange them (31% compared to 19% for the European average) and to hire them (23% compared to 17%).
They have on average tried 5.2 out of 17 collaborative consumption practices tested, which is more than the European average (4.6). A majority of them have already bought products from small local producers who live in their region (69% compared to 65% on average), bought or sold second hand cultural goods (52% compared to 54%), or second hand electrical appliances, video or hi-fi equipment (53% compared to 46%). A majority of them have also already used a tutorial (50% compared to 48% on average). Although the other practices have been tried only by a minority, Italians have slightly more often than the average European resorted to collaborative consumption concerning car use (18% already used a car-club car, compared to only 13% on average), and in the field of housing (22% have already asked a private individual to rent them their residence for the holidays; compared to 17% on average). Italian people also have slightly more often than the European average resorted to practices in the field of collaborative finance: 19% have already invested in socially responsible saving products (compared to 16% on average) and 18% have participated in the financing of a project or an activity someone wanted to carry out (compared to 14%).
The main reason for adopting collaborative consumption practices in Italy is to save money or to earn some money (68% of Italian people cite this reason as one of the two main reasons; 71% on average). Italian people are among the Europeans that believe the most that the rise of these new consumption practices is caused by the economic recession (66% think so, compared to 52% on average), rather than by technological changes (19% see it as the main cause compared to 30% on average) or a real transformation in our societies (15% think so compared to 18%).
Although the rise of collaborative consumption is seen as an answer to the economic context, it is not seen as a temporary phenomenon: 75% of the Italian population are convinced that the development of collaborative consumption is an underlying trend (73% for the European average). Only 25% believe on the contrary that these new forms of consumption will not last, and that this phenomenon will run out of steam (27% on average).
When 69% of the Europeans believe that the development of collaborative consumption leads to more solidarity in society, Italian people are even more enthusiastic: 76% think it is the case.
Italians are indeed even more convinced than the European average that collaborative consumption practices can show (even only partly) solidarity: for example, 88% think that exchanging services can be categorised as showing solidarity (compared to 82% on average) and 83% think the same about offering people lifts in exchange of a small contribution to expenses (compared to 76% on average).
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