A thousand lire per month

Mille lire
Michele Caprini
22 Aug 2019

If I could have a thousand lire a month,

I would do great shopping, I would buy among so many

the most beautiful things you want


It was in 1939. Even in a terrible context, Gilberto Mazzi sang a popular hope that would be tied, perhaps definitively, to the common memory.

In eighty years, expectations and spending capability of Italians have changed several times. However, we can consider a shorter period, more or less a quarter of a century, to understand what and how much can be worth thousand lire of today.

Compulsory expenses 

In recent days, Confcommercio published an analysis of its own Study Office on compulsory expenses of families between 1995 and 2019. This term covers expenditure on housing, insurance, fuel and health.

It is obvious that compulsory expenditure is a major constraint on the whole basket of family expenditure. This, however, reflects long-term trends consistent with the evolution (or involution) of new consumption patterns.

After a continuous increase recorded between 1995 and 2013, in the last 6 years the share of compulsory expenses is in slight decrease, and is worth approximately 7.400 euros per year for every Italian. The fall in energy prices played a positive role, but in 2019 the portion remains high: the compulsory expenditure weighs 41% on the total consumption of households.

The house, between real and imputed rents, maintenance, energy, water and waste disposal, is the major expense. It costs 4,200 euros for each fellow citizen. Among housing expenses, it is interesting to note that the last two items (water and waste disposal) have a stable impact even if decreasing in terms of volumes. The explanation, of course, is the constant increase in tariffs.


As far as consumption is concerned, goods account for 37.7% of the basket. Amongst these, food spending is falling steadily: a little over 3,000 euro per capita in 1995, 2,700 euro this year.

The consumer goods, in recent years, have experienced a modest recovery, supported mainly by “durables” (cars, above all), whose purchases had been heavily penalized from 1995 to 2013.

Over the same period, on the contrary, expenditure on services is increasing and sustained: from EUR 2,800 to almost EUR 3,900. The share of consumer services is experiencing a steady and significant growth.

Health expenditure, in particular, has risen more strongly than average consumption with a further increase in incidence. This figure is not surprising, even if there is a higher variation in prices, and it is probably also linked to the progressive ageing of the population.