A Peek Into Several European Countries
There’s a common stereotype among us to generally assume that the countries of Western Europe are all wealthy. However, I wanted to take a look at the issue of poverty in Spain, and see if our stereotype is faulty.
Spain experienced financial issues back in 2008 when an economic crisis broke out. The recession resulted in budget cuts regarding social welfare, unemployment and an increase in the number of children living below the poverty line in Spain. In 2008 the number of children living below the poverty line had already reached 20%, which is indeed a high number. Unfortunately, in the following years their conditions have not improved, but on the contrary; worsened every year. One problem is that the number of children below the poverty is increasing, but the living conditions of people already below the poverty line is continuously getting worse as well. Because of this economic crisis, they have cut the budget toward social support geared to families in dealing with the crisis. In 2011, one in four children of Spain was living in what is considered extreme poverty (estimated at 30 percent of the average income, 3,650 euros a year) and facing malnourishment on a daily basis. In order to deal with this, Spain’s SOS Social Centers supported a total of 700 families, and their 4500 children in SOS Centers throughout Spain. As mentioned above, the recession led to unemployment, and recent data shows that as much as 56.1% of the Spanish people below 25 years old are unemployed. In fact there are 3.5 million unemployed youth across the Eurozone, and a quarter of these are Spaniards. Growing child poverty is also a result of the lack of jobs available for parents. Providing free breakfast or having schools remain open over the summer for children to eat in school cafeterias has been a way in some Spanish regions to try to overcome the growing number. In addition to this, another way to try to combat the issue of child poverty, Hungary, Belgium and Spain signed a declaration calling for the EU to give priority to child poverty and well being in this time of economic crisis, September 3rd. So, it is safe to say that all countries are in fact not as wealthy as we assume they are, and also struggle with poverty.
As Spain is a member state of the UN, and has been since 1955, it has agreed to try to reach The UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015. These goals are created as an effort to try to combat poverty, disease, hunger, illiteracy, discrimination against women and environmental degradation.