The Working Poor in Europe
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The Working Poor in Europe

Employment, Poverty and Globalization

Edited by Hans-Jürgen Andreß and Henning Lohmann

For a long time in-work poverty was not associated with European welfare states. Recently, the topic has gained relevance as welfare state retrenchment and international competition in globalized economies has put increasing pressures on individuals and families. This book provides explanations as to why in-work poverty is high in certain countries and low in others.
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Chapter 8: Two Countries in One: The Working Poor in Italy

Ferruccio Biolcati-Rinaldi and Federico Podestà


Ferruccio Biolcati-Rinaldi and Federico Podestà1 INTRODUCTION Within the framework of a comparative analysis of in-work poverty, the Italian case can be of interest not only as a classic example of a Southern European welfare regime, but also because of its high level of internal heterogeneity. Southern Italy – also called the Mezzogiorno – experiences incidences of poverty and in-work poverty that are much higher than those in the Northern and Central regions of Italy. Such a difference is an unavoidable point of departure which has already been highlighted by many scholars (Kazepov, 1998; Negri and Saraceno, 1996; Sgritta and Innocenzi, 1993) and can be a useful analytical tool for better grasping the Italian experience. This is the intention of this chapter, and one that is rhetorically expressed in the title. In other words, we want to study how it is possible – within one historical and political unit – that social and economic processes can diverge so dramatically. The chapter comprises six sections. Following the introduction, the second section presents the Italian welfare regime in its historical perspective, while the third treats the different elements of this welfare regime (work, state, and family) analytically. On this basis, the fourth section develops some working hypotheses that are then compared with the empirical analysis and findings of the fifth section. In the last section, we attempt to sum up our findings in a comprehensive picture of in-work poverty problems as they relate to the Italian case. FROM THE GOLDEN AGE TO THE CURRENT...

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