The paper presents estimates on the dispersion of earnings and the proportion of lowpaid employees in Italy in the period 1977-1998, and it measures the differential impact of low pay and employment status on households’ poverty. The estimates are computed from the micro-data of the Historical Archive of the Bank of Italy’s Survey of Household Income and Wealth. The distribution of net earnings narrowed from the late 1970s until the end of the 1980s, abruptly widened in the early 1990s and experienced little modification in the rest of the decade. The trend in the share of low-paid workers evolved in parallel with that of earnings inequality. Finally, the probability of being in poverty is more closely correlated with the number of household members employed, particularly other than the head, than with low pay.
Published in 2002 in: D. Cohen, T. Piketty, G. Saint-Paul (eds.), The Economics of Rising Inequalities, Oxford, Oxford University Press