Having a second pair of shoes is an indicator of economic well-being. These gestures of daily consumption should be the small print of the large macroeconomic figures. But in Spain, that correspondence is not given. This is revealed by the report on the Economic and Material Welfare of the La Caixa Foundation, which has crossed data from sources such as Eurostat, the Institute National Statistics Office (INE) and several ministries and has produced devastating conclusions: unlike neighboring countries, the economic recovery in Spain has not been accompanied by an equivalent social improvement.
The reality of Spaniards differs from that of their European neighbors in two critical data: the level of vulnerability – one third of the population lives at the mercy of economic swings– places them in the position 25 of the 28 Member States of the European Union. They are also in the queue, only ahead of Latvia, Lithuania, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, in terms of "consistent poverty", which combines economic weakness (income) and material deprivation (way of life).
However, the harshness of these figures does not match a Gross Domestic Product that is in the average of the countries of the European Union, in an honorable position 14. The money reflected in the Big figures do not reach the purses: with the data available in hand, so many Spaniards should not be so poor.
Laura has two teenage children and a long-term unemployed husband, like her. At 45 years old, he can not face an unforeseen event or pay for a week's holiday a year, like more than a third of Spaniards. He says that in his house, in Seville, he does not live, he survives. It is on the verge of the embargo by its community of neighbors and cools with a used refrigerator that they gave to him when his was spoiled.
In 33% of Spanish homes, what is broken is repaired or lost: replacing broken furniture is an impossible luxury. Leonor was receiving a strike of three euros after a contract of three hours a week. Then came a miniempleo and the subsequent relief: three months with 270 euros of benefit "to pay ceiling and food, because the children's clothes are given to us and the heating is paid by my father".
Now he takes out, when he is good at it, 80 euros per week giving private French lessons. The professor of Economics at Rey Juan Carlos University and one of the authors of the report, Luis Ayala, has combined data from enough Lauras and Leonores to conclude that the instability and low quality of the jobs created are the main causes of that Spanish dysfunction that prevents lives from improving at the pace of the economy, as it does in countries in the European environment.
Daily and necessary expenses such as eating meat or fish regularly or heating the house in winter are serious deficiencies that were exacerbated by the crisis and have not improved with the economic recovery in Spain: 8% of the population is cold in their house -more that the 7.2% who suffered this deficiency in 2009, in the middle of a crisis- and 3.7% do not eat as they should for lack of money, compared to 2.1% who only ate meat or fish every two days in 2009 .
The past crisis, despite its seriousness, is not the great culprit of this situation. The author of the report is clear that, in Spain – where a quarter of those over 25 lack their own income or earn less than 535 euros per month – it is not enough to generate more wealth to solve the problem: "You have to change many things , the rule of 'more employment, less vulnerability' is not valid here; 10% of workers continue to lose 25% of income each year due to the precariousness of working conditions ".
This is seen with her own eyes, every day, Cristina Cózar, socio-labor inclusion technique of Acción contra el Hambre in the neighborhood of San Cristobal de los Angeles, in Madrid, one of the poorest in Spain: "Unemployment is a great problem, but even people who get a job, earn very little or work a few hours; He has a job, but they continue to share a house, living in a room and suffering from many basic needs because he does not get what he earns, "he says. It is difficult to get used to what Cozar sees every day: "People who barely eat meat once a week and eat what they give them: pasta, cookies, pulses … Clothing is another problem, they can not buy it. basic and they put what they give them; when they go to look for work, they lend each other clothes that are a little more groomed ".
Almost one in three people receive less income than they consider necessary to balance their expenses, according to the study, which affects the difficulties of a growing number of people to maintain their levels of social participation. 18.8% of Spaniards do not have an amount of money, however small, to spend on themselves; and 9.6%, compared to 5.2% in 2009, you can not afford to replace old clothes with new clothes.
This causes a social isolation that deepens the economic misfortune. "They have very little self-esteem, they are pissed off with everything," explains Cózar, "and that's a whiff that bites the tail: it's very difficult to find a job like that, they end up isolated, without leaving home, hardly moving, getting fatter because they do not walk, they do not take care of themselves, they do not have motivations … Many share a home and there are tremendous situations. Those houses with a lot of relatives who live together with force and with many problems are a permanent source of discussions, with children who witness continuous fights … ".
Economic precariousness, social isolation and family tension are fed back to each other creating an unbreathable environment where stress, anxiety and psychological disorders end up burying those who populate the red numbers of statistics.
And so there is no one out of the hole: the risk of chronic poverty increased almost six points from 2012 to 2016, when it reached 13.5%, the latest data recorded by the report that so worries the Economics professor. "In Spain, unlike the rest of Europe, there are no strong policies of redistribution of wealth and that, together with the precariousness of the job created, has generated a social model that is unable to overcome a reality: we can not translate our levels of wealth in greater social welfare ", concludes Ayala.