Handbook on In-Work Poverty
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Handbook on In-Work Poverty

Edited by Henning Lohmann and Ive Marx

There has been a rapid global expansion of academic and policy attention focusing on in-work poverty, acknowledging that across the world a large number of the poor are ‘working poor’. Taking a global and multi-disciplinary perspective, this Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of current research at the intersection between work and poverty.
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Chapter 18: In-work poverty in Southern Europe: the case of Italy

Paolo Barbieri, Giorgio Cutuli and Stefani Scherer

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of the main trends and determinants of in-work poverty in Italy, a country representative of the Mediterranean welfare-and-labour market arrangement. Even in presence of relatively low levels of earning dispersion, Italy displays comparatively high rates and a moderate increase of in-work poverty during the 2000_2014 period. Three main points of interest emerge from the analyses. First, in a context of (still) low female labour market participation, single-earner couples as a relevant portion of Italian households and a significant driver of in-work poverty exposure. Second, the accumulation of individual labour market risks at the household level, particularly relevant in the dualistic and highly segmented Italian labour market. Third, the risks of protracting in-work poverty statuses over time, with negative consequences in terms of between-households inequality trends. According to the empirical evidence, the definition of possible policies contrasting the diffusion of in-work poverty would require a combination of measures. On the one side are the implementation of policies aimed at reducing the incidence of single-earner households, both by promoting a further increase in female employment, and by providing reliable work_family reconciliation tools, especially in the presence of childbirth (and children) in the household. On the other side is the provision of effective measures targeted to cushion, by means of reliable unemployment benefits and fiscal incentives, the poverty risks related to low-work intensity and high employment precariousness among the weakest segments of the workforce, employed in marginal labour market positions.

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