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For the first time, the younger generation is Italy’s poorest

For the first time, the age group most affected by poverty were those aged between 18 and 34, or the so-called ‘millennial’ generation.

They made up 10.2 percent of those seeking help at the charity’s centres, while 8.1 percent were aged 35-44, and just four percent were 65 or older.

The turnaround is due in part to the influx of refugees over the past two years. A total of 7,770 refugees approached Caritas for help, the vast majority of them male and aged 18-34.

On a national level, foreigners were slightly more likely to request help from one of the charity’s 1,649 centres than Italians, though in the south, the majority of those who approached centres were native Italians (66.6 percent).

Men and women were almost equally likely to turn to Caritas, and 60.8 percent of those who did so were unemployed – however, the charity noted a rise in requests for help from people in employment.

Traditionally, poverty has disproportionately affected those living in the south of Italy, elderly people, larger families and families where one or more members were unemployed.

But Caritas noted an increase in poverty among those groups considered less at-risk, particularly people living in the centre-north and young people.

This reflects the persistent unemployment crisis, which has hit the younger generation hardest. Data from national statistics agency Istat earlier this year showed that 2.2 million Italian families were without a job income, with younger families the worst off.

The Caritas Report on Poverty and Social Exclusion, now in its 15th year, was presented on Monday and also noted Europe-wide issues, particularly the huge rise in refugees reaching Europe over the past few years and the problem of finding accommodation for the new arrivals.