Europe's greatest wealth gap

MadridIn its time of woe, Spain has been deemed the most unequal society of all Europe.

Three million (6%) inhabitants in 2012 lived in conditions of “extreme poverty” trying to survive on €307 a month or less, according to the charity Caritas.

That figure is double those who suffered extreme poverty in 2008 when recession began to strangle the country.

Credit Suisse separately reported that the number of millionaires in Spain rose last year to 402,000, an increase of 13% over 2011.

The top 20% of Spanish society is now seven and a half times richer than the bottom fifth, the biggest divide in Europe, according to Caritas.

"The report paints a picture of a more fractured, more divided society, where the middle class is disappearing and a minority has access to wealth, goods and services while the majority sits outside," Caritas said.

Many analysts had already expressed fears that the poorest people would be disproportionately harmed by the austerity measures brought in to combat the massive public debt.

Six years ago Spain's economy was seen as one of Europe's great success stories, and in 2007 it created almost half the new jobs in the eurozone but its drastic unemployment rate (26%) is now second only to that of Greece, and economists see little light at the end of the tunnel.

The Spanish government argues that it has stabilised the economy after years of recession, but observers believe only a complete overhaul will achieve this.

Other leading bodies have had similar negative findings about austerity's impact.  The Council of Europe last week found that cuts in social, health and education have led to a growth of family poverty in Spain.

The OECD's first global study of adult skills revealed that in literacy and numeracy Spain was at the bottom of 24 countries.

Pin It