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Pandemic widens Italy's social divide, study shows

Report by statistics office Istat finds that social, economic impact of COVID-19 hit disadvantaged Italians harder

Giada Zampano  | 03.07.2020 - Update : 04.07.2020
Pandemic widens Italy's social divide, study shows


The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated Italy’s economic and social inequalities hitting the poorest, vulnerable and less educated, a study published on Friday showed.

According to the annual report by Italy's national statistics office Istat, the social and economic impact of the outbreak, which has claimed 35,000 lives nationwide, will cause rising unemployment and poverty and record low birth rates.

The study confirmed that the economic fallout of the pandemic on the already stagnant Italian economy will be heavy, with the country’s output seen falling by 8.3% this year.

The report confirmed that the elderly population was the most fragile and the worst-hit by the pandemic. Almost 85% of total deaths included people older than 70, while more than 56% of the victims were over 80 years old, it said.

Istat also studied the coronavirus mortality rates for each month from January 2019 to March 2020, focusing on the education levels of those who died. It found that the “excess death” ratio among less educated people increased in March – at the peak of the pandemic -- to 1.38 for men from 1.23 a year earlier, while rising to 1.36 from 1.08 for women.

"Disadvantaged socio-economic conditions expose people to greater risk of living in small or overcrowded housing, reducing the possibility of adopting social distancing measures," the report noted.

The study concluded that the coronavirus emergency accentuated “pre-existing inequalities," as low-income people were more likely to be forced to work during lockdown, while many irregular workers lost their precarious jobs.

The report also predicted that the “shock” caused by the pandemic on employment levels will have an impact on Italy’s already low natality rate, accelerating the downward trend in Italian births.

According to simulations that took into account the climate of uncertainty and fear created by the pandemic, in the immediate future Italy could risk a fall in the number of newborns by about 10,000, distributed between 2020 and 2021, Istat said.

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