Économie et Statistique n° 383-384-385 - 2005Approaches to Poverty: the Test of International Comparisons
Poverty threatens young Spaniards just as they are becoming emancipated
From 1990 to 2000, the standard of living rose more sharply in Spain than in countries such as France that have been members of the European Union from the outset. The unemployment rate, which jumped up through to 1995, plunged to the average European Union level in the early 2000s. Fixed-term contracts are booming on the labour market. The level of social benefits, measured as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), is falling. Among these social benefits, the share paid out for unemployment has fallen even though it has remained relatively high compared with that paid in the fourteen other countries. However, the share paid in family allowances and child benefits has remained persistently low. Unlike the countries northern Europe, a large majority of young Spaniards aged 16 to 30 live with their family of birth, which has shrunk in size due to a sharp drop in fertility. In so doing, they evade the pressure of poverty in a labour market that is not very inclined to employ them. They are more vulnerable to poverty in terms of living conditions when they leave home and when their own children are born.