Employment has a key role in shaping people’s health. It provides both opportunities for its promotion and exposure to risk factors, such as periods spent in unemployment or in precarious jobs. In recent decades, the Italian labour market has been reformed structurally, with the aim of shifting social policies towards a model of flexicurity. This research reviews these reforms from an equity perspective, with a focus on the distribution of labour related health risks, and on the role played by welfare measures. To this end, we introduce a labour market inclusion indicator, which sums up those who are employed to those who are unemployed but receiving welfare benefits. We use this indicator to identify the main social groups "suffocated" by the crisis and assess the ability of welfare measures to "rescue" them. Results show that the crisis had a heterogeneous impact, affecting young workers and females the most. The welfare state was most effective in protecting those less affected by the economic downturn, thus increasing inequalities.
Keywords: Social inclusion, labour market, social policy, recession, labour market policy