Business 28/01/2021

Young people overtake older people as the most vulnerable group

42% of young people who before covid had average incomes now have low or no income at all

3 min
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When the financial crisis broke out in 2008, people over 75 were the group most at risk of poverty in Spain. This situation, however, has changed with the current health crisis and now it is young people aged between 16 and 24 who head this sad ranking. This is revealed in the report La pobreza en España y Europa: los efectos del covid-19 (Poverty in Spain and Europe: the effects of covid-19). The report was prepared and presented on Wednesday by the Institute of Economics of Barcelona (IEB).

"Young people will be the most affected by the health crisis because of, among other things, current public policies and also families with children who were already before the pandemic in a vulnerable situation", the professor of public economics at the UB and researcher at the IEB Núria Bosch, and professor of economics at the UNED Luis Ayala, have agreed on stating. According to data from the EU-SILC, in 2008 people over 75 years of age followed by young people under 16 were the groups most at risk of vulnerability; in 2019, however, young people aged 16 to 24 years of age came in first, while in second position those under 16 years old remain.

More data that corroborate the weakness of this group: 42% of young people aged 16 to 24 who had average incomes before the pandemic now have low or no income, and among those who had low incomes, almost half (44%) no longer have any. By gender, women are the biggest victims of the impact of the pandemic. In the case of Catalonia, 45% have seen their income decrease, and as for men the percentage is 37%, according to data from the Institut Català de les Dones last April.

In fact, before the coronavirus arrived, Spain was the second country in the European Union with the highest rate of working poor, only surpassed by Romania, basically due to the high level of temporary employment and low wages. At the same time, there were 8 million people at risk of social exclusion. The State was also the rich country with the highest poverty rate (more than 20% of the population). It was fifth from the bottom, ahead of Estonia, Bulgaria, Latvia - and Romania, which again has the highest poverty rate in the EU.

"The pandemic has broken out when Spain had not yet recovered the pre-crisis levels of 2008 in social welfare, the recovery in "V-shaped" will not occur in households that suffer this situation because it may be that poverty may end up becoming structural", both Ayala and the director general of economic analysis of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Marta Curto, have warned.

By autonomous communities, where there is more risk of structural poverty is in Murcia, Castilla-La Mancha, Canary Islands, Andalusia and Extremadura. All have had the highest rate of vulnerability both in this crisis and during the recession of 2008-2013. On the other hand, those who best avoid this situation are the Basque Country, Navarre and, in third position, Catalonia.

The complexity of the IMV

To get out of this situation, the authors of the report welcomed the fact that measures such as the minimum living income (IMV) have been taken. However, they are clear in stating that the current effect of social benefits promoted by the administrations is "very limited" to overcome this chronic vulnerability and that there are groups that are suffering from this situation who have been excluded from these aids.

As for the IMV, they questioned the difficulty and complexity of the procedure to access it and the lack of coordination with the autonomous communities. "We got to the pandemic without having made our homework; there was not enough time to agree on the IMV with the autonomous communities", the professor of economics at the UNED regrets.