When pensioners are unable to make ends meet


Yesterday in the Italian news I heard for the umpteenth time about a pensioner, in this case a 79 years old  pensioner who stole some food in the supermarket to feed himself and his dog because his pension did not allow him to make ends meet. The supermarket Supervisor called the police and the pensioner has been denounced for a theft valued € 4,00, his justification was ”I did it for hunger”. It is heartbreaking to hear such news, in Italy there are increasingly frequent cases of theft in supermarkets and large shopping centers and often they are made by pensioners in conditions of hardship and poverty.

The phenomenon of “thieves for necessity” goes hand in hand with the advent of the new poor, or of those people, once belonging to the middle class. Pensioners continue to live at or near poverty levels, this is particularly true for the widowed and single pensioners. According to the estimates of the trade unions, 67% of pensioners in Italy survive with  a pension of € 500,00 per month. It is easy to understand how, net of rent, bills, medicines and food expenses, in the pockets of many pensioners remain almost anything.

The social and economic conditions of the elderly in Italy became significantly worse. It can be attributed to the crisis, to the cuts carried out by the government, that have worsened pensioners’ living conditions and have facilitated the growing phenomena of social exclusion. Pensioners are among the most disadvantaged  groups in the society and are suffering more than others from the effects of the crisis and welfare cuts. In fact, because of cuts on pensions and public spending, older people have to rely on their small pensions to access services like health care and transportation, that in the past used to be provided by the government.

Drawing a conclusion, many pensioners in Italy clearly suffer from poverty and are excluded from the society. Pensioners are certainly the losers in International Global Economy not only because of lack of financial resources and  governments’ cuts to public spending but also because they are no longer able to live their lives with confidence and dignity as equal, respected and involved members of the society.                                                                                                                        

Francesca Urso (Dubai Campus)


2 thoughts on “When pensioners are unable to make ends meet

  1. This is heartbreaking! Having worked and served society for so many years, the least the elderly deserve is the ability to live their final years with dignity and without the stress and worry of having to find money to simply feed themselves. My understanding of the Italian culture comes predominately from films such as The Godfather, so it’s fairly limited (haha). But from what I’ve gathered it’s that Italian families are extremely close and older members of the family are highly respected and looked after. Hence I’m quite shocked to read this.

    I’m quite interested to know more about the family dynamics in Italy – as within the Arab culture, it is common for three generations to live within the same household in order to care for older members of the family. Is this not the case in Italy? Is your post referring to the majority or to a minority of socially excluded old people in Italy?

    Deena Abdo

    • Thank you Deena for your comment! In the past families used to be very close to older members of the family however as a result of modernity and of social changes in recent decades, Italian family dynamics have changed profoundly. The family structure has undergone changes and elderly have been affected by those transformations in family dynamics and values. Statistics from the Italian National Institute of Statistics show that today 31% of elderly live alone as single or widowed (this is particularly true for those living in big cities and in the northern part of Italy) and the rest is composed of elderly couples or elderly living with their families. I hope this answer your question, if you have any other question feel free to ask me.

      Francesca Urso

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