Anonymous asked in TravelItalyOther - Italy · 1 decade ago

Why do Italians think they're so hard up?

I've had this conversation with quite a few Italians and a lot of them have the perception that compared to places like the UK and USA they live in poverty. They seem to have this perception that in Western Europe and North America the streets are paved with cold and everyone is earning big money.

I can't speak for the US, but I'm British and have lived in Italy for the past 5 years and I think it's safe to say that the Standard of Living of the average Italy is no different to the average British person, even in material terms. There are some damn rough parts of Britian, where people struggle to make ends meet, yet Italians have this perception that everyone in the UK is rolling in cash.

Yes, the wages in Italy are slightly lower on average than the UK, but it's all relative, living in Italy is much cheaper than the UK, so it evens out.

People say "Oh, but the South of Italy is dirt poor", well, I think Italy's regions correspond quite well with the UK. Northern Italy is about at the same development as the South of England in my opinion, and the South of Italy broadly speaking is probably on par with Northern England and Scotland, which are a bit behind in South in a lot of areas (no offence intended, but it's true).

What makes me wonder is, why do Italians have this perception that they live in a third world country compared to everyone else? It's almost somewhat of an inferiority complex which simply isn't true.

Italians don't realise how good they have, many people from the real Thirld World would jump at a chance to live in Italy and reap the benefits of living in a country as developed as Italy. Yet all the time Italians are complaining - quit your bitching.


Just to add, people might try and bring up Naples as an example of poverty in Italy, but take Glasgow in Scotland for example, there are parts of Glasgow where the life expectancy is little more than 50.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'm Italian, I live in Italy and I completely agree with you...

    I think part of the problem is most Italians are not aware of some basic data, but the same happen when foreign people talk in a not-so-good-way about Italy just like the Italians you mention do...

    Some example of what most people think but is actually wrong:

    1) unemployment rate in Italy is high; whoever says this is not really aware unemployment rate in Italy is *below* European Union average and is slowly but constantly decreasing by twenty years, now. The latest statistics report a 6.5%, compared to an EU average of 7%, while big Countries like Germany and France have an u.r. higher not only than Italy but even than EU average. It's true in the UK is lower, though. Still, is near the same like in North of Italy. And talking about the US, a year ago was 4.5%, but last August was 6.1%...

    2) a comparison between salaries; especially when comparing to the US, most people, both Italians and Americans, easily forget usually total amount in the US is "before taxes", while in Europe is "after basic taxation", otherwise a gross salary would be double.

    In order to make a real reliable comparison both Italians and Americans should remember most things granted as a right in Europe (often even straight in the Constitutions) are not in the US; so an American, after taxes, still have to pay for health care and pension, while in Europe that's done yet through taxes (so, even an American "net salary" does yet include pension and health care).

    And in the US you may be living a good life, but if you're out of your luck, you're doomed... what in Europe are considered *basic rights* for working people or even people loosing their works, in the US are almost a blasphemy!

    3) Any Italian people who think Italy is not a safe place to live... for sure never cared to verify what's the crime rates elsewhere: they'd be really scared when confronting crime rates in Countries outside Western Continental Europe (including Italy) to other Western Countries like the USA or the UK... In the US 0.042 people every 1,000 are killed every year, in the UK 0.014, in Italy 0.012 (and Rome is the safest capital in Europe, with a 0.003 rate). Rapes in the US are 0.30 (every 1,000), in the UK 0.14, in Italy 0.04; assault: USA 7.5; UK 7.4; Italy 0.5. And so on...

    Another example: if there's no work, why most factories in North East of Italy are *forced* to hire foreign people (and they still need even more...)? Because most Italian don't want to do such kind of works. Some firms even report to offer an apartment for workers emigrating from Southern Italy, but with little success.

    Edit: G, if you mean I gave you a thumb down, I'm sorry but somebody else did, not me...

  • Giuly
    Lv 7
    5 years ago

    I don't know what Italians you talked with, but I've never thought Italy is a third world country. Is a first world country.

    I think that way because I'm a northern Italian. Although we are going through a crisis, people who had a job before the crisis, still have it in the north. Before 2008 in the northern region i live in, if you didn't like your job and left it, you were able to find another good job in 30 minutes. I remember in the '90s I refused some good job, I could do it. Maybe today there isn't the same situation, but we aren't starving and it annoys me like hell reading comments of stupid Italians who write here that Italy sucks and something. I'm very lucky to be born here, I don't see people starving, the restaurants and the shops are always full of people...

  • 1 decade ago

    Hello there! I think you heard these comments from some Italians who never traveled, all they know about usa it`s those american soap opera where all they show is money, success, beautiful people and expensive cars....well i`m Italian, from Naples, the most beautiful city in Italy and i think mine is a beautiful country, with a lot of history, (can we say the same about usa?) I have traveled and i know this is not the reality. Maybe they need to watch some other kind of movies, so that they can see that reality is much different! There are ****** up places all over the world.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    First of all, not all south of Italy is so poor and behind...believe me there are part of that which the perception of "be poor" is less strong than in the northern part (where the price are very higher and wage still low)..that is your italy people feel to have an hard time because despite the prices are very dear (mainly in the north) the wage are very little...dont say only slight little..a lot little than in the uk and believe me...apart London maybe the "basic" needs in the Uk (and probably in France, Germany as well) are lots cheaper than in Italy! A average family in England can afford to have 3 children (in Italy is a luxury) and got an high standard of living (I have seen with my eyes)...but if you ear them they consider themselves "ordinary" while for me they are rich! A different point of view you understand? so in other words they got more "money" to be used for their life and this dont means they are "rich" still they got more and more benefits compare to the italian one ..hence you become "rich" in some ways...benefits in all europe are very high in italy just add the fact of the unemployed rate and the job conditions in Italy are far "hard" than in Uk for sure...and you got your Italy the difference between rich and poor are bigger than in Uk and you should see we havent got the good services you got

    For pinguino: is more hard to be poor in the northern part of the country and before leave a place where they love to stay in (the south and i cant blame...) they want to think not only a matter of a matter of 1000 km far from your people and place, is a matter of prices they are so dear that will "erase" the benefits to have a job (well payed?) with the frustration to be far from the place you love....and this is why i say that despite the problems in the south is less the sensation to be "poor" than in the northern part of the country..both anyway less "rich" than Uk and europe standars for sure

    why the thumb down? You dont respect different opinion and experience...strange..wide open mind should be requested...and i replyed following my experiences and other people experience got...why answer then?

    Wages are low in Italy? Yes

    Cost of living is higher in the north? Yes

    Is more difficolt in the north to cope with this? Yes

    This are truth below everybody's eyes? Yes I am not inventing a thing unfortunatly

    This might like or not like but is a FACT that people from Italy PREFER go to the Uk to work than in the north might dont like it but is must be a reason if they do that...then the thumbs down dont change the realitly which you cant Hide giving thumbs...little childish and out of the "real" world and if thruth "hurts" this is matter to cope with..

    pinguino it wasnt direct to you but towards who ask about it...and i was mainly agreed with what you told before for the main

    Source(s): real life
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  • bg
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Italian born living in Canada, in a nutshell Italians are affected by the "greener pasture over the fence" syndrome.

  • 4 years ago

    If you get a program like Rosetta Stone, then you can pick up the basics in a few weeks. Also, once you understand another language in terms of sentence structure, tenses etc., these concepts make it easier to learn additional languages.

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