Italy research shows boom in hired household help

10% of families use cleaning service, caretakers

Italy research shows boom in hired household help

Rome, May 14 - The number of people engaged in some sort of household assistance work - such as babysitting and caretakers for the elderly - has increased by more than 50% over the past 10 years in Italy, according to research published Tuesday by the Censis research institute. According to the study, the number of domestic helpers in Italy has increased from about 1.1 million in 2001 to almost 1.7 million in 2012. Some 2.6 million families, about 10.4% of the total, pay someone to help out with some aspect of household life, according to Censis. However, this "informal welfare" is costly - on average about 667 euros per month - and only one third of Italian families manage to claim some sort of state funds. Such welfare costs soak up about 30% of an average family's income, the study said. Figures show just over 56% of families say they can't do without at-home help. In order to pay for these services, about half of Italian families cut back on consumer spending, the data said. Some 20% of families have had to take money out of their savings to pay, while almost 3% have had to take on debt, according to Censis. Many families where both parents work were considering whether one breadwinner should surrender his/her job in order to take on the household activities in place of hired help, said the study. According to Censis, 15% of families in the south and 20% of families in the north were considering this option. While up to 44% of families feel they will need more paid assistance at home in the coming years, 50% think it will be difficult to meet the expenses and almost 42% think that they will have to give it up altogether, the study said.

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