March 2005

IZA DP No. 1530: The Age of Discontent: Italian Households at the Beginning of the Decade

published in: Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia, 2004, 63 (3-4), 449-487

In the Italian public debate growing attention has been recently paid to “household impoverishment”. Subjective indicators of economic condition show that this concern reflects a common sentiment of the Italian population. On the other hand, estimates based on the Bank of Italy’s Survey of Household Income and Wealth reveal a surprising stability of income distribution in the period 1993-2002, after the sharp widening amid the 1991-92 recession. A number of possible reasons that can account for this apparent inconsistency are investigated: data deficiencies; disappointed expectations; significant distributive changes across socio-economic groups which have cancelled out at the aggregate level; higher income mobility not captured by static inequality indices.