Economic crisis forcing more than one million Spaniards into poverty

More than a million more Spaniards are living below the poverty line now than before the country was battered by an economic crisis, according to a study by a Spanish charity released Friday.

Some 22.7 percent of Spain’s population of around 46 million were either moderately or severely poor in the second half of 2009, when the study was carried out, up 3.4 percent from an earlier survey in 2007, the Spanish branch of the international charity Caritas said.

“It seems clear that the social impact of the crisis is far from ending,” the study said. “We are talking about the first impact of the crisis over the two years, which will have to be monitored in the future.”

The Spanish economy entered recession at the end of 2008 as the global financial crisis accelerated a collapse of its once-booming property sector. It only emerged with tepid 0.1 percent growth in the first quarter this year.

The crisis has sent unemployment soaring to more than 20 percent, the second highest in the European Union after Latvia.

The Caritas survey, carried out with Spain’s FOESSA social studies foundation, was released at the European Congress on Poverty and Social Exclusion being held in Madrid.

It said 18.6 percent of Spaniards can be classified as suffering “social exclusion,” up 2.3 percent from 2007, with women the social group worst affected.

“The seriousness of this analysis … is that it suggests the destruction of the basic social fabric,” the secretary general of Caritas Spain, Sebastian Mora, told a news conference.

“This is a real challenge as the top priority will have to be restoring the social cohesion that has been lost by the crisis.”

The survey was carried out among 3,500 people in 1,683 households.

Caritas Europe also issued a separate appeal at the conference to EU leaders “to reduce by 30 percent the number of people living below the national poverty lines, lifting over 25 million people out of poverty…

“An adequate basic income must be guaranteed as a right for people who do not have sufficient resources for dignified living conditions,” it said.

It also urged the EU to “eradicate child poverty in Europe.

“By 2020, the number of children living in families below the poverty line must be reduced by 70 percent compared to the 2010 level,” Caritas Europe said.


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