Economic crisis plunges 1.4m into poverty in Italy

The economic crisis in Italy plunged 1.4 million into poverty last year, according to a report by the national statistics agency published on Wednesday.

The number of people living in "absolute poverty" went up to 4.81 million in 2012, the report said, meaning eight percent of the population struggle to obtain adequate food clothing, or shelter, up from from 3.42 million in 2011.

The incidence of "relative poverty" -- a measure of less acute deprivation -- went up to 12.7 percent of the population from 11.1 percent.

"The report sheds light on a significant increase, which should be taken very seriously by politicians" said Linda Laura Sabbadini, the director of the department responsible for the study.

"It is the first time since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008 that the country has experienced such a big growth in poverty, both in relative and absolute terms," said Sabbadini. "It is striking how it hits hard on all categories considered in the study".

Southern Italy was considered the most worrying region in the study, as poverty was a problem there even before the financial crisis.

"Not only are poor people in the south more numerous, but they are also much poorer than other poor people," said Sabbadini.