New Caritas Report Examines the Social Cost of Economic Crisis

Caritas Europa has released the second report of a series of annual studies on the human impact of the economic crisis and austerity policies on the European Union’s most vulnerable people, with a focus on the seven EU Member States most affected by the crisis – Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain. According to Caritas Europa, the findings of this report demonstrate beyond any doubt that austerity measures are impacting very negatively on the lives of people living in poverty, and driving many more into poverty for the first time.

Some of the findings contained in the report:

  • income poverty has increased globally, reaching a rate of 25,1% in Member States. Spain has 29,9% of childhood poverty;
  • in Italy, more that 4 million poor people will be soon relying on a national fund for food aid;
  • 55,4% of Greek young people aged 15-24 are unemployed;
  • in Ireland, public sector cuts affecting healthcare system have put the most vulnerable at risk.

policy brief just published by Bruegel, called Europe’s social problem and its implications for economic growth, looks at the topic of poverty from a more macro-economic perspective. Interrestingly, it points out how the social consequences of the crisis (high private debt, high unemployment, poverty and more limited access to education) undermine long-term economic growth as well as social and political stability. According to Bruegel, policymakers face three main challenges:

  1. “addressing unemployment and poverty should remain a high priority not only for its own sake, but because these problems undermine public debt sustainability and growth”;
  2. “most labour, social and fiscal policies are the responsibility of member states, requiring national reforms. But better coordination of demand management at European level is also necessary in order to create jobs”;
  3. “tax/benefit systems should be reviewed for improved efficiency, intergenerational equity and fair burden sharing between the wealthy and poor.”

Our Blog already produced a resource alert last January on Mark Blyth’s book Austerity: the History of a Dangerous Idea (OUP, 2013). On the topic of austerity policy you can find these other resources in the Council’s Central library.

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