The one taken by Istat in the focus dedicated to the is a photograph with more shadows than lights Sud in which he also indicates the ten key areas to reduce the gap with the Center-North. The Italian Mezzogiorno discounts “even very large structural gaps” with the rest of the country and “significant processes of convergence are rarely appreciated” with the other areas of Italy. Profound differences “also infra-regional” between the southern territories.
South, Istat photography
For over twenty years – we read – the “Per capita GDP” in the South hovers around 55-58% of the Centre-North; nin 2021 the GDP real is around 18,000 euros (33,000 in the Centre-North). All of Southern Italy is below the national average: the tail region (Calabria) has a Per capita GDP equal to 39.5% of the best (Trentino Alto Adige).
Bad news also on the level of education in the South which “confirms a serious backwardness: it improves in the younger generations but the disadvantage is still very large. In 2020, a third (32.8%) of Southerners aged 25-49 (24.5% in the Centre-North) finished eighth grade at the most; 22.6% (27.6% in the Centre-North) have a tertiary qualification”.
Istat then notes that the working condition sees young southerners heavily penalised. From 2000 onwards, about 3 jobs every 10 fewer in the South than in the Centre-North (25-34 years) are fairly stable. With rare exceptions, the whole of Southern Italy has youth employment rates that are much lower than the average. The result – the report points out – is a worrying recovery in mass emigration. In 2020, the South and Islands lost as many as 42 young residents (25-34 years old) for every 100 personal data movements in internal extra-regional flows (+ 22 in the Centre-North) and 56 out of 100 in foreign ones (49 in the Centre-North) . The phenomenon is accentuated in the provinces with low employment and in the so-called “internal areas”.
Wide gaps, penalized young people
In the last twenty years – we read again – the digitization process was very fastbut the South has not yet recovered the initial gap: about 60% of residents have reduced opportunities to access ultra-broadband, and about 1 in 5 (17.3%) live in contexts that are very far from this standard ( 4.2% in the Centre-North).
Another critical factor the obsolescence of water networks given the increasingly severe drought affecting the country. In the South there are often losses for about half of the water for civil use. Above-average levels of inefficiency characterize three quarters of the provinces of the South (1/4 in the Centre-North).
The noon it also has a visibly lower endowment of transport infrastructures to other divisions. The density of the railway network is much lower, especially in the high-speed (0.15 km for every 100 km 2 of surface area; 0.8 in the north; 0.56 in the centre). In recent decades the expansion has been very modest (+0.3% against +7.1% in the Centre-North) while the qualitative gap has increased (58.2% of electrified network; 79.3% in the Centre-North ).
Al Sud, educational outcomes are significantly worse: students’ skills are lower in all disciplines and the gap increases in the various educational levels. In 2021-’22, 42.7% of southern high school students have “very weak” skills in mathematics (28.3% in Italy; 15% in the North-East) and only 6.7% are at “very good” level (14.9% in Italy; 22.6% in the North-East).
How and where to bridge the gap
Childcare services are crucial for child growth and for the employability of women with children. The offer of these services is growing throughout the country, but the gaps remain significant. Two thirds of children (0-3 years) in the South live in contexts with supply levels lower than national standards and 17.8% in areas with very low or no endowment (5.3% in the Centre-North);
Relevant territorial gaps characterize the efficiency, appropriateness and quality of health services. In the South – especially in some regions involved in the Recovery Plans (6 out of 7 in this breakdown) – the contraction in public spending had a negative impact on the LEA (Essential Levels of Assistance). A widespread “medical emigration” persists: extra-regional hospitalizations are 9.6% of internal ones (6.2% in the Centre-North). In more than 1 Province out of 5 (21.1%; 7.2% in the Centre-North) this healthcare mobility is very intense.
Stop demographic tsunami
“The first drop was recorded between 2011 and 2020 of population in the recent history of the South (-642,000 inhabitants; +335,000 in the Centre-North). With unchanged trends – underlines the Institute – in 2030 residents will fall below the critical threshold of 20 million inhabitants for the first time, with a reduction on a ten-year basis of about 4 times compared to the Centre-North (-5.7% and 1.5%)”. The loss of population, it is explained, “is concentrated in the youngest, counterpointed by the greater weight of the elderly population. Around 2035 the average age of the population of the South and Islands could exceed that of the Centre-North, in 2011 still significantly lower (39 years against 43.2 in the Centre-North). These unprecedented phenomena, if not governed urgently, can lead the South towards a radical involution and – closes Istat – very problematic in the functionality and sustainability of its social structure”.
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