Italian average is over

by on July 8, 2017 at 2:02 am in Current Affairs, Economics | Permalink

Michele Fontefrancesco, an economic anthropologist and honorary fellow of Durham University, says: “Jobs have been getting more precarious in Italy since the late-1990s. What is becoming more and more common in Italy and other Mediterranean countries is the erratic movement of workers from firm to firm.”

He adds: “It’s becoming harder and harder to access professions with social capital. You study for three or four years longer than your father and you earn less money than him.”

For Agnese Bellieni, a 31-year-old resident of Alessandria, in Italy’s north-west, years of education are failing to pay off, and the eurozone recovery feels intangible. After finishing her doctoral studies in literature her dream was to become a full-time teacher, but in recent years she has been bogged down in a series of continuous but part-time, precarious work assignments — from market research, to Latin and ancient Greek tutoring — that, at best, have earned her €1,500 a month.

That is by Claire Jones in the FT, mostly about how the new eurozone jobs have lower wages and less job security.

1 UncleMartyPants July 8, 2017 at 2:39 am

It’s the same thing happening here in the states.

>Deport all non-citizens
>Housing demand drops
>Housing bubble bursts

Millennials will finally be able to earn a living.

I can only imagine how much cheaper housing in Los Angeles would be if 12% of its population (Illegals) left.

2 Econ nerd July 8, 2017 at 2:54 am

The solution is OPEN BORDERS! Let Italians who can’t find jobs move to Bengladesh.

3 prior_test2 July 8, 2017 at 3:56 am

The irony of this, of course, is that Italians took full advantage of America’s open borders before WWI, and yet oddly, it is rare to find Americans who think that this generation long wave of Italian immigration was a disaster.

Even more ironic is that as a founding member of the EU, Italian workers continue to enjoy the open borders of all member states of the EU, and one finds plenty of Italians working in Germany, often second generation.

The final irony is that a number of Italians currently working in the UK are likely to leave the UK, as the UK rejects the idea of free movement of labor (though free movement of capital and goods remains something desired by those wanting to leave the EU). We will see how the UK looks in 10 years after seemingly deciding that allowing EU workers to have the same freedom of movement as EU capital and goods is simply unacceptable.

4 M July 8, 2017 at 7:43 am

free movement of capital certainly remains something desired (and not achieved) by those remaining within the EU

5 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm

“Let me ignore the cost per resident of generous governance while I compare two things as if they were the same.”

6 Floccina July 10, 2017 at 12:01 pm


7 Dzhaughn July 8, 2017 at 2:56 am

The immigrants are stealing the dream jobs of our literature Ph.D.s!

8 Econ Nerd July 8, 2017 at 3:07 am

We need more cheap Indian engineers OPEN BOARDERS

9 Anonymous July 8, 2017 at 9:24 am

Open boarders? Not the Crimson Private Assurance, I hope!

10 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm

The liberal academic institution is misleading students, the liberal consumer protection bureau is sure to sue for trillions!

11 gab July 8, 2017 at 11:15 pm

“I can only imagine how much cheaper housing in Los Angeles would be if 12% of its population (Illegals) left.”

I’ll suddenly be able to afford Beverly Hills!

12 Mr. Econotarian July 9, 2017 at 1:02 am

And Beverly Hills would fine you for not having your gardening done well enough…

13 P July 9, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Could expropriate all their assets while we’re at it!

14 ChrisA July 8, 2017 at 3:50 am

I would guess that there is some “Straussian Reading” required here by Tyler.

It’s another good example of why productivity and measurement of living standards are not capturing the reality of how life today is so much better than when these kind of measurements were introduced back in the 1950’s. I know I would rather have been able to study literature until my early 30s rather than rushing into the workforce in my early 20’s, but that choice simply wasn’t available to me and most of my peers. But when you measure this difference it looks like stagnating incomes and falling productivity, not a series of lifestyle choices.

15 Just Another MR Commentor July 8, 2017 at 3:59 am

Europe way over invests in high education. I’ve spent a lot of time there the number of people studying for PhDs into their 30s is mind boggling. University is cheap and graduate slots are plentiful and jobs barely pay so why not? But it’s a giant societal malinvestment in my opinion.

16 ChrisA July 8, 2017 at 5:24 am

“a giant societal malinvestment in my opinion” – if there was a purpose to society I would agree with you, like if we were fighting some kind of existential war and all resources must be moblised for that purpose. But we are not, and actually it is good we are not and don’t have to have a purpose for society. I would rather individuals do what pleases them rather than having to sacrifice for a “greater good”. That way tyranny lies.

17 Just Another MR Commentor July 8, 2017 at 5:27 am

I totally agree with you except that this creates enormous credential inflation in the job market forcing people to do PhDs even if they would rather not because career advancement demands it.

18 ChrisA July 8, 2017 at 6:05 am

JAMRC – You are right to worry about the status arms race. Of course it’s mostly applicable to the public sector where credentials often equal salary/employment prospects because these are rent exploiting positions. Your local Government isn’t going to go out of business because they now require all of their teachers to have masters degrees. The private sector will quickly find ways to “exploit” under-credentialed but talented people, unless there are regulations of course which gradually ratchet up the credentials that people need to do a certain job (all the while benefiting the incumbent job holders).

But to return to the subject at hand, my impression is that this is not what is driving the extended education in Europe, it is genuinely people deferring work for the pleasure of the student life. It’s related to the Steve Sailer dirt gap calculation, living in a densely populated city is great for a single person, hell for a family. So where land is cheap, people quickly marry, have kids and look for paying work. Where land is expensive, people defer marriage and family and focus on “self-fulfilment”.

19 Just Another MR Commentor July 8, 2017 at 6:25 am

The private sector is unfortunately no where near as efficient in hiring as you believe. Credentialism and status games are rampant and I have extensive experience with German companies and it’s almost a requirement to have a Phd or at the absolute least a masters to get into any management position.

20 Anonymous July 8, 2017 at 9:11 am

But we are not, and actually it is good we are not and don’t have to have a purpose for society. I would rather individuals do what pleases them rather than having to sacrifice for a “greater good”. That way tyranny lies.

An economist is going to see a rather central feedback loop. If productivity increases have allowed greater leisure, then further productivity enhancements continue to power that cycle.

Are extra social science PhDs productivity enhancing?

21 TMC July 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Are extra social science PhDs productivity enhancing? Not really. Maybe even a net negative. Too many people going around today that have a little knowledge and think they know everything. Then, of course, they want everyone to do things their way, no matter how much bullying it takes.

As people go to school for these useless degrees, they siphon off resources that could be used for real growth. That’s OK, as long as we recognize this as consumption rather than investment. No problem with more consumption, that’s what work and economic growth is for.

22 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:25 pm

The same people living off of society while seeking useless degrees begin advocating for themselves at the public trough soon after graduation:

Headline: “Alexandra Jones, Ph.D. in 17th Century English Literature, still depends on food stamps.”

Salon commenter: “anti-intellectualism, Dump Frump, need socialism.”

Democrat pol: “we need more funding for Universities (to create sinecures for Ph.D.)”

23 derek July 8, 2017 at 10:10 am

We are not talking about wealthy families with dissipated kids wasting their fortunes. Someone somewhere has to be productive to generate the cash to pay for the generous education, health benefits, pensions and all that. What this story is describing is an economy being bled dry. The young trying to enter the work force and make a life for themselves are the first to suffer the consequences.

24 ChrisA July 8, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Derek, I don’t know if it is really true that economies are being bled dry by over-education. It’s a bit like saying that economies are being bled dry by overconsumption of fancy kitchens or BMWs, sure if the economy can’t afford it, but not if it can. My view is that many Western Economies are perfectly nice places even with this over consumption of education so it can be afforded.

25 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:27 pm

ChrisA, the student’s aren’t paying for the schooling in all cases, which means that people with real jobs are. Additionally, the students that do pay are advocating for student loan forgiveness, so they can stop paying.

26 ladderff July 8, 2017 at 7:24 am


You have basically admitted that most of the so-called student life is simple consumption. There is no warrant for having anyone but those who are enjoying it, pay for it. You seem to get around this by assuming that everyone has the disposition and the talent for getting something out of higher education, but this is not even close to true, which should be obvious. You are also waving away a profound set of distortions, economic/fiscal but also social and psychological, that result from having education sector-influenced policy favor transfers to, of course, the education sector.

There should be far fewer people at university, in the US and in Europe.

27 Amigo July 8, 2017 at 8:00 am

I enjoyed school, but disagree strongly with those who view it as consumption, or as an extended vacation. I remember those years as intense work, but perhaps view it as positive because I viewed it as proving myself for the future. When I burned myself out years later in the corporate world, it was still work, but not viewed in the same way.

28 ladderff July 8, 2017 at 8:56 am

As I’ve said here before, what most students do at university cannot possibly be described as intense work. That you or some people you know did work hard and that some fraction of those people worked hard in a way that actually made them more valuable to others in the future does not negate the obvious general proposition. No statistics required; all you have to do to see this is actually attend an American university. The homogeneity of the experience is pretty impressive across ‘tiers,’ too.

29 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:30 pm

What does the workweek of a 12-year Ph.D. track look like? 10 hours of teaching work, 10 hours of research and 20 hours of political activism?

30 ChrisA July 8, 2017 at 12:45 pm

“You have basically admitted that most of the so-called student life is simple consumption” – I think I was making this point rather clearly, not admitting it. As I said I am not surprise people want to continue as students rather than working, even if their measured income and material consumption is lower, it’s just nicer than working. I don’t know that I argued that everyone or even most people should do this, there is a world of difference between making an observation of phenomena and arguing for that phenomena.

Being a student is like buying expensive wine, fine if you can and want to afford it, but not if you can’t.

31 Millian July 8, 2017 at 1:04 pm

The jobs you want people to do in their 20s, instead of degrees, don’t exist in Italy. That’s the problem which any amount of exhortation to change lifestyle choices won’t change. It is Europe’s Michigan.

32 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:32 pm

This comment reaks of ignorance and privilege. Anyone capable of finishing an advanced degree can get a job starting at 30-40k depending on cost of living.

33 Mark Thorson July 8, 2017 at 2:31 pm

And they can probably spell “reek”.

34 Peldrigal July 11, 2017 at 12:14 pm



Try again.

I personally know people that take advanced degrees because the alternative is taking jobs paying between 10,000 to 15,000 Euros a year. Those are not typos, and it’s a well know situation, if you would just read some articles in any newspaper.

35 athEIst July 8, 2017 at 2:08 pm

I’m not a big fan of Michigan but your brush is way too wide. Say D E T R O I T.

36 Lurker July 8, 2017 at 4:12 am

I am waiting for the episode when Mr. Wednesday encounters the God of Education. That should be a gas!

37 Tummler July 8, 2017 at 8:38 pm

It’s a shame this comment didn’t receive the recognition it deserves.

38 Jan July 8, 2017 at 6:32 am

Obligatory “but it is a degree in literature” comment.

39 Slocum July 8, 2017 at 7:22 am

Well, yes. Employment opportunities for humanities PhDs inthe US are also far from great. There are nowhere nearly enough tenure track openings to go around.

40 Jan July 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

Fact check: true

41 Amigo July 8, 2017 at 8:05 am

+1. I was eagerly looking forward to this comment.

42 daguix July 8, 2017 at 9:14 am

I would add the “face with rolling eyes emoji” to the commentary.

43 Bill July 8, 2017 at 7:10 am

So, people aspire for a dream job, invest time and effort in getting that dream job, and they don’t.

Look, it’s simple.

Just ask Ivanka and Jared how they were able to accumulate $740 million in assets, or ask your dad to do what Mitt Romney did: give your kid a few million to start his own business.

You’re so lame, whining all the time.

44 TMC July 8, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Ivanka went to Wharton where she graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

She is no slouch and would be successful if her father were an electrician.

45 Charles July 8, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Might’ve been a harder time to go from Georgetown to Wharton without all that expensive, elite private schooling though.

46 Mr reader July 8, 2017 at 4:17 pm

No doubt she would be “architecting” her future in any alternate reality you propose

47 Alex FG July 8, 2017 at 7:22 am

“After finishing her doctoral studies in literature ” – a case of the complacent class. Expecting high-pay with public-servant job security for an artistic job, which qualifications aren’t expected to come from wit, talent or practical experience but from obtaining a degree.

48 The Engineer July 8, 2017 at 8:46 am

Agreed. Couldn’t they have found someone more worthy of sympathy? Oh, you got your fricking PhD in literature?!? And you’re surprised that you can’t find a job?

It is good to see that the higher ed bubble is not just an American phenomenon.

49 Anonymous July 8, 2017 at 10:25 am

I actually heard this story yet again week. Neighbors’ daughter has a literature PhD, as does her husband. But their plight isn’t too bad. They are forced to work at a less prestigious California State University (tenure track for her, instructor for him) until their dream in the midwest opens up.

50 The Engineer July 8, 2017 at 10:48 am

Cal Poly at Pomona, baby! Cal State Chico!

Sounds like she is one of the lucky ones.

51 Anonymous July 8, 2017 at 11:13 am

True, they are lucky. But even then they had to do “instructor” positions in separate cities for a while, until they managed this shot at tenure. It is a rough road. It’s not like getting a comp sci degree and having money thrown at you the week after graduation.

52 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Comp Sci is paid more because it is more valuable to society. Your friends are greedy in that sense. They probably complained about lecturer pay, too. Shameful.

53 chuck martel July 8, 2017 at 8:57 am

“Jobs”, as we know them, where the employee signs a W-4 form, shows up every morning at 7 and gets digital currency deposited in his bank account are a very recent development in human history. There’s no reason to believe that this paradigm will endure for any extended period of time. We don’t know what the schedule for its demise might be.

54 Anonymous July 8, 2017 at 9:16 am

PhD? All you need is a Bachelor’s from Wharton (and the right dad) and you can chair for a nation at the G20.

Average is over? Or a degradation of American values?

55 TMC July 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm

She was cum laude at Wharton’s, with significantly more experience than Obama when he took office (maybe even after he left). She’s a smart lady, a definite step up from what we usually see in international politics.

56 Anonymous July 8, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Interesting. I have come to believe that there are two kinds of people in the world, at least as regards not wanting to hear about Trump.

There are those who have chosen self-imposed exile. They may focus on political economy, but say they don’t want to talk about personalities. That is very much exile, and not (as it may have been in the past) productive commentary. The things that make America unique right now are emotional and personal. That’s how Ivanka got to a chair on the G20. Not her achievements in economics, her cum laude, but because she has a peculiar dad who has trust issues with anyone who did come up through conventional study of diplomacy, policy, economics. Anyone, not in the family.

There are those too who don’t want to stand up to say Trump is a great President, doing the best job ever. They will just passive-aggressively respond to criticisms of him. They aren’t championing anyone, they are just doing damage control for their own psyche.

Are you in that second camp? Or are you really putting it out there that Ivanka is the best possible diplomat for the United States at the G20 in 2017?

57 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:38 pm

And Chelsea Clinton’s “achievements”, you turd?

58 Anonymous July 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm
59 msgkings July 8, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Kind of falling right into his web there, Thomas. What does Chelsea, or even Hillary, have to do with Ivanka’s G20 position?

60 Mr reader July 8, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Hahahah I laughed out loud at this comment.

What will you do when the Clinton family fades from relevance? Who will be your new foil?

61 msgkings July 8, 2017 at 4:47 pm

They will go back to Mao and Pol Pot and Chomsky

62 Jan July 8, 2017 at 6:44 pm


63 Digital Marketing Course Rohtak July 8, 2017 at 12:12 pm

visit her for more detail

64 Chip July 8, 2017 at 12:59 pm

I’m just a guy on the internet with a couple minutes to spare.

474,000 – number of Italian births, lowest since 1861

250,000 – number of substitute teachers struggling to find permanent positions

Someone with a PHD had at least 7 years to digest these numbers and wonder if teaching was a sensible choice.

65 Millian July 8, 2017 at 1:09 pm

People are sneering at the idea that a graduate in literature should expect a job. But remember:
1. Italy is most famous for being the cradle of Roman, Christian and modern European cultures, so having literature graduates is important. America is most famous for cheeseburgers and nobody would cry if the American contribution to world literature vanished tomorrow.
2. It’s Italy and even STEM graduates don’t have good jobs. That’s right, even the virtue signalling, mood affiliated, neuro-atypical… whatever word we use nowadays to mean conservative men, the good guys.

66 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:40 pm

No, we agree with you: free college for all with guaranteed TT slots for any uninspired schlub who manages to get pushed across the finish line.

67 Thomas July 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm

And a healthy dose of disrespect for those with blue collars.

68 Chip July 8, 2017 at 2:17 pm

STEM employment in Italy is above the EU average and their wage premium over other jobs is 47%, which is higher than in the UK, Germany and France.

And Italian lit grads aren’t mastering Roman culture. Those would be classics students.

69 Millian July 8, 2017 at 7:10 pm

These findings are true because, as the report says, few STEM graduates are young. They are mid-career professionals and there’s no jobs for the next generation.

70 Mark Thorson July 8, 2017 at 2:59 pm

It’s Italy. The traditional sink for useless people like her is marriage or a convent.

71 Anon7 July 8, 2017 at 8:17 pm

If the job market in Italy for teaching jobs in literature is anything like the US (which could be discovered by a cursory glance at the Italian equivalent of the Modern Language Association job placement success rate), then she should have had a significant Plan B (&C) for employment doing something else. Expecting her dream to come true and ignoring the harsh reality of the job market is the foolish mistake that a stereotypical lit type would make.

72 Tyler Fan July 8, 2017 at 1:46 pm

It seems the problem is not complacency; it’s r>g.

73 CH July 8, 2017 at 7:10 pm

“new… jobs have lower wages and less job security”

I don’t get it; isn’t this the goal of neoliberalism???

74 Mark Thorson July 8, 2017 at 10:43 pm
75 Floccina July 10, 2017 at 11:40 am

Would that be evidence that too many people are graduating from college?

76 Floccina July 10, 2017 at 12:43 pm

BTW has anyone thought about what knowledge and skills are needed and in demand in Italy today?

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