The interviews of the sample survey on the income and wealth of Italian households in 2008 were conducted between January and September 2009.
The sampling scheme is the same as that used in the previous surveys, with sample size basically unchanged: 7,977 households were interviewed, compared with 7,768 for the 2006 survey. The households were drawn from the registry office records of 359 municipalities; they are composed of 19,907 persons, including 13,268 income-earners.
The questionnaire is more or less the same as that used in the last survey. The focus topics are perceived wellbeing, the situation of the household of origin, payment instruments and financial information.
Average monthly household income, net of tax and social security contributions, is €2,679 in 2008. For 20 per cent of households monthly income is below €1,281, for 10 per cent it is above €4,860. The median is €2,174. Income concentration is broadly in line with that found in past years.
Average household income contracted by about 4 per cent in real terms in the two years 2006-08; taking account of the changes in household size and composition, equivalent income fell by about 2.6 per cent. The reduction is similar to that recorded during the previous recession, between 1991 and 1993.
The decline in incomes was more severe for self-employed workers than for payroll workers or non-employed persons. It was also more intense for persons younger than 55, especially those under 45.
The proportion of individuals with an income below the poverty line is 13.4 per cent, about the same as in 2006.
The share of persons resident in Italy who were born abroad grew by two percentage points between 2006 and 2008, to about 7 per cent of the population. About 36 per cent of those born abroad have Italian citizenship. Some 24 per cent of those who are not Italian nationals are citizens of other European Union countries.
Households’ net wealth, i.e. the sum of real financial assets (property, businesses and valuables) and financial assets (deposits, government securities, shares, etc.) net of financial liabilities (mortgage loans and other debts), has a median value of €153,000 in 2008. In real terms, after growing by about 44 per cent between 1993 and 2006 thanks mainly to the rise in the value of real estate, the median diminished by about 1 per cent in 2006-08.
The richest 10 per cent of households possess nearly 45 per cent of Italian households’ total net wealth. This level of concentration has remained basically unchanged in the last fifteen years.
The proportion of households with debts has increased by almost two percentage points, to 27.8 per cent, still lower than in the main industrial countries, particularly as regards mortgages. However, their degree of financial vulnerability, gauged by the ratio of property loan servicing to disposable income, is about 17 per cent, roughly the same as in the 2006 survey and in line with ratio in other euro-area countries.
The average rent paid by households in 2008 is €336 a month for a dwelling of 75 sq. m. For a dwelling of median size, the proportion of tenant households’ income going to pay rent has increased by about one percentage point to 18.6 per cent.