EU/Eurozone Austerity Policies Create Mass Poverty

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(EIRNS)–A report by the Irish think tank Social
Justice Ireland, for Caritas Europa, on “Poverty and Inequalities
on the Rise — Just Social Models Needed as the Solution!” finds
that austerity policies in the European Union have contributed to
intense economic suffering, particularly for young people and
other vulnerable social groups.
Some 123 million EU citizens — one in every four — are at
risk of poverty and social exclusion — an increase of 7 million
in the six years prior to 2013. An extra 8.4 million people
became unemployed in the same period and almost one-quarter of
economically active young people in the 28 EU countries are
unemployed. Young people constitute the largest group in the EU
that is underemployed and who feel discouraged in attempting to
look for work.
Being the third such report, this latest one compares
economic indicators across the 28 EU member-states and seven
states in particular — Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece,
Spain, and Romania.  All but Romania are part of the euro single
currency area.
The report found that 7.3 million young Europeans (ages
15-24) were classified as “Not in Employment, Education or
Training” (or NEETs) in 2013.
In Ireland, 16.1% of young adults (or one in six) were
termed as NEETs, compared to an EU-28 average of 13%. Italy had
the highest NEET rate (22%), followed by Bulgaria (21.6%) and
Greece (20.6%). Furthermore, at 58.3%, Greece had the highest
unemployment rate in the EU-28 countries in 2013 for young people
under 25 years old, followed by Spain with 55.5%. Ireland’s rate
was 26.8%, compared to an EU average of 23.4%. A similarly
dramatic picture also appears in respect to unemployment: nearly
two-thirds (62%) of unemployed people in Ireland were “long-term
unemployed” in 2013, not far behind Greece (70.9%), and ahead of
Italy (58.6%) and Portugal (57.8%). This number has fallen in
Ireland in recent months but structural unemployment remains a
problem.
“This level of young people not in education, employment or
training across Europe is extremely worrying, especially when you
consider the long-term ‘scarring effects’ of early unemployment.
The negative impact on lifetime earnings is most pronounced for
young people who experience periods of unemployment,” the report
states.
The report confirms the harsh impact of unemployment,
underemployment, and low wages on dependent children: Greece had
the second-highest child poverty rate in the EU-28 countries
(28.8%), with Spain and Italy close behind (27.5% and 24.8%,
respectively). In Ireland the figure was 18% (for 2012), or more
than one in six children. “According to UNICEF (2014) out of 41
EU and OECD countries, those with the greatest {increase} in
child poverty rates from 2008 to 2012” include, in order of
increase, Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Italy (emphasis in
original). The report also showed that “Inadequacy of benefits
and cutbacks and other restrictions since the crisis have
adversely impacted children in countries that already have high
or very high child poverty and social exclusion rates–amongst
them Greece, Spain, Italy and Romania.”

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