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Key challenges to social inclusion
ISTAT’s report "Poverty in Italy 2019" published estimates of absolute and relative poverty, based on data from the household consumption expenditure survey.
Nearly 1.7 million households are in absolute poverty with an incidence of 6.4% (7.0% in 2018), for a total number of almost 4.6 million individuals (7.7% of the total, 8.4% in 2018). The incidence of families in absolute poverty is considerably higher in the South than in Northern and Central Italy.
Poverty increases in the presence of cohabitating children, especially minors, from 6.5% for families with a minor child to 20.2% for those with three or more minor children. Poverty is also more widespread among single-parent families than the average, with an incidence of 8.9%, decreasing compared to the 11.4% of the previous year. In general, family poverty is decreasing as the age of the reference person increases: families of young people are more frequently less likely to have a lower spending capacity because they have lower average incomes and savings accumulated over a lifetime, or inherited assets. Absolute poverty affects 8.9% of the households where the reference person is between 18 and 34 years old and 5.1% of those with a reference person over 64 years of age.
In 2019, according to ISTAT, one in nine minors lived in absolute poverty; one in eleven between the age of 18 and 34 (an improvement with respect to the previous year). In 2019, absolute poverty in Italy affected 1 million 137 thousand minors. The incidence ranges from 7.2% of the Centre to 14.8% in the South. Compared to 2018, the conditions of minors improved both nationally and in the Centre (from 10.1% to 7.2%). The incidence is higher in the classes 7-13 years (12.9%) 4-6 years (11.7%) compared to classes 0-3 years (9.7%) 14-17 years (10.5%).
More than 619 thousand families with children are in absolute poverty, with an incidence of 9.7%. In addition to being more often poor, families with minors are also in more markedly uncomfortable conditions. The incidence of poverty among families with minors is higher in metropolitan areas and varies greatly depending on the working condition of the reference person: 7.1% in households where the reference person is employed and 21.6% if unemployed.
Citizenship of families with minors plays an important role in poverty: the absolute poverty rate is 6.3% for Italian families, while it reaches 31.2% when the family is made up only of foreigners.
Compared to the family type, the incidence of absolute poverty increases as the number of minor children in the family increases (4.9% for couples with one child, 9.3% for those with two and 16.6% for couples with three or more children). It is high among single-parent families (10.5%) and in family configurations with more households living together (18.0%).
The data show a strong correlation between education levels and economic poverty. Young people with low or low-middle-class education are more likely to fall into a condition of need and run the risk of remaining in a state of chronic poverty. The spread of poverty decreases as the level of education increases: if the reference person has obtained at least a high school diploma the incidence of poverty is 3.4%, while it stands at 8.6% in cases of at most a middle school diploma.
In the 2016-2017 school year, 120,000 students dropped out of school in a single year, adding to the dropouts recorded in previous years. The rate of Not inEducation, Employment or Training (NEET) (age group 15 to 29 years) peaked at 26.2% in 2014 and fell to 23.4% in 2018. However, pre-crisis levels have not yet been recovered (19.3% in 2008). Among NEETs, young people with non-Italian citizenship are overrepresented: in 2019 there were 300 thousand foreign NEETs, 14.5% of the total NEETs, while the foreign population in the country represents 8.5% of the total population. School dispersal in Italy, both in middle and high school, mainly affects males, mostly foreigners, who drop out of school three times more than Italians.
The presence of unaccompanied foreign minors (MSNA) is a structural element of the phenomenon of migration to Europe and, in particular, to Italy. This phenomenon presents various problems related to the condition of lonely children, along with the often traumatic migratory experiences, and the difficulties of accessing training opportunities and job placement when becoming adults. The Directorate General of Immigration and Integration Policies of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies is responsible for monitoring the condition of MSNA in Italy and, for this purpose, periodically publishes statistical reports and monitoring on the presence and main characteristics of MSNA in the country. According to the latest report published, as of 31 December 2019 there were 6,054 MSNA in Italy, mainly male (94.8%) between the age of 16 and 17 (87.6%). The main countries of origin are Albania (27.7%), Egypt (8.8%), Pakistan (8.3%) Bangladesh (8%). MSNA present in Italy are mainly welcomed in Sicily (19.2%), Lombardy (13.6%), Friuli-Venezia Giulia (11%) Emilia-Romagna (10%).
The protection of unaccompanied foreign minors has recently been the subject of several regulatory interventions in the Italian system: first, the decree-law 142/2015 introduced specific provisions relating to the reception of unaccompanied foreign minors, and the law 47/2017, which dictated an organic discipline of the subject. Unaccompanied foreign minors, who cannot be identified, have the same rights and protection as minors of Italian nationality, as stated in article 1 of the law 47/2017.
The Italian Constitution, in Article 31, stipulates that "The Republic facilitates with economic measures and other provisions the formation of the family and the fulfilment of related tasks, with particular regard to large families. It protects motherhood, childhood and youth, fostering the institutions needed for this purpose." This article must be coordinated with Article 37, according to which "The working woman has the same rights and, for the same work, the same wages as the [male] worker. Working conditions must enable the fulfilment of its essential family function and ensure that the mother and child are properly protected. The law sets the minimum age limit for paid work. The Republic protects the work of children with special rules and guarantees them, for equal work, the right to equal pay." Finally, according to Article 3, paragraph 2: "It is the task of the Republic to remove economic and social obstacles, which, by effectively limiting the freedom and equality of citizens, prevent the full development of the human person and the effective participation of all workers in the political, economic and social organization of the country".
With regard to inclusion problems, the Italian Constitution identifies certain categories of people who, for different reasons, must be considered disadvantaged and/or must receive support throughout their lives. The Constitution lists those in social and/or economic difficulties as follows:
Art. 10: "The foreigner, who is prevented in his country from the effective exercise of democratic freedoms guaranteed by the Italian Constitution, has the right to asylum in the territory of the Republic, according to the conditions established by the law"
Art. 24: "The low-income subjects are insured, with special institutions, the means to act and defend themselves before every jurisdiction"
Art. 32: "The Republic protects health as a fundamental right of the individual and as a collective interest and guarantees free care to the destitute."
Art. 34: "The school is open to all. [...] The capable and deserving, even if lacking in means, have the right to reach the highest grades of study. The Republic makes this right effective with grants, family allowances and other provisions, which must be awarded by competition."
Art. 38: "Every citizen who is unable to work and lacks the means to live has the right to maintenance and social assistance. [...] Disabled people have the right to education and professional start-up"
Article 10 of decree-law 460/1997 (relative to the tax treatment of third sector entities) refers to disadvantaged people "due to physical, mental, economic, social or family conditions", in line with constitutional provisions.
With regard to ordinary legislation, Article 414 of the Civil Code states that "The one of majority age and the emancipated child, who are in a habitual infirmity of mind that renders them unable to provide for their own interests, are prohibited when this is necessary to ensure their proper protection."
With regard to labour legislation, law 68/99 "Rules for the Right to Work of disabled people" allows the "targeted" inclusion and work integration of people with disabilities. Other beneficiaries are the protected categories: orphans and surviving spouses of those who have died from work, war or service, or as a result of the worsening disability reported for these causes, as well as of spouses and children who have been declared to be disabled by war, service and employment and Italian refugees who have been repatriated.
With specific reference to the conditions of physical or mental disadvantage, law 104/1992 sets out a broad and articulated discipline on the care, social integration and rights of disabled people. A person with disabilities is defined as "the person who has a physical, mental or sensory impairment, stabilized or progressive, which causes learning difficulties, relationship or work integration or such as to result in a process of social disadvantage or marginalization".
Law 381/1991 (relative to social cooperatives), art. 4, states that "the physically, psychological and sensory disabled, the former patients of psychiatric hospitals [...] persons in psychiatric treatment, drug addicts, alcoholics, working minors in difficult family situations, persons detained or interned in prisons, convicts and inmates admitted to alternative measures to detention and work outside must be considered disadvantaged."
Decree-law 112/2017 (revision of the discipline in the field of social enterprise), art. 2 paragraph 4 letter b), identifies "the beneficiaries of international protection under decree-law 251/2007, among the disadvantaged categories employable in a social enterprise.
According to art. 2, law 47/2017, an unaccompanied foreign minor is defined as the "minor who does not have Italian or European Union citizenship who is for any cause in the territory of the state or who is otherwise subject to Italian jurisdiction, without assistance and representation by parents or other adults legally responsible under the state’s laws".
Law 47/2017 defines the various measures to protect MSNA in line with the regulatory framework for minors. In particular, protections for the right to health and education of children are strengthened, with simpler procedures for enrolment in the National Health Service and the school system.
On 21 December 2019, the Council of Ministers approved in preliminary consideration the "Regulation with amendments to the Presidential Decree (D.P.R.) of 31 August 1999, No. 394, in implementation of Article 22 of Law 7 April 2017, No. 47, which provides measures to protect unaccompanied foreign minors." The new regulation changes and integrates the existing regulatory discipline, with particular reference to the issuance of residence permits and the conversion of them upon reaching the age of majority.