Italian families lose 40 percent of their wealth in a decade

Fri Dec 7, 2012 12:18pm EST
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By Naomi O'Leary

ROME (Reuters) - The wealth of Italian families has fallen more than 40 percent in the last 10 years according to a study released on Friday, as a prolonged recession after years of stagnation hits households.

Financial net worth per family fell 40.5 percent to 15,600 euros ($20,300) in 2011 from 26,000 euros a decade earlier, according to Rome-based think-tank Censis.

The findings show the scale of the challenge facing the country, still dogged by recession after a year under a technocrat government appointed to save Italy from a debt crisis built up over years of high spending and stagnant growth.

Almost all who responded to the survey said they had cut back on luxury purchases to try to reduce their spending, while 73 percent said they had sought out special offers and bought cheaper food.

"I try to save on clothes shopping and household necessities. The prices keep going up but my pension stays the same so I have to be careful," pensioner Clara Francetti told Reuters as she browsed discount socks at a market stall in Rome.

"Holidays? Out of the question!"

Four in 10 families had given up a holiday and cut down on clothes shopping, while 65.8 percent said they drove their cars and motor-bikes less to save on fuel, the study said.

Low consumer spending has long been a weakness of the Italian economy, compounded by salaries that have lagged behind inflation over the last decade.   Continued...