One in five Spaniards live in poverty

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2012, 4:31am

Every fifth resident in Spain lives in poverty, new figures show.

The national statistics institute INE said 21.1 per cent of the 47-million population lived below the poverty line, meaning they live on less than US$9,610 annually.

That is slightly less than a year ago, when the percentage stood at 21.8 per cent. But the improvement was due only to the increase of elderly people whose pensions constitute a relatively stable income, INE said.

The number of minors aged under 16 living in poverty has increased to 21 per cent from 19.4 per cent last year. Families' medium annual income have dropped 1.9 per cent to US$32,138, and the number of households with a lot of difficulties covering their costs went up to 12.7 per cent from 9.8 per cent.

Charity organisations have warned about the growth of poverty in Spain. The country is experiencing its second recession in three years, and unemployment has rocketed to nearly 25 per cent.

Critics attribute the spread of poverty partly to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's austerity policies. Even so, Rajoy's People's Party received the backing of voters on Sunday in elections in the northwestern Galicia region.

Galicia has managed to keep its budget deficit low, unlike the central government, which is struggling to trim its deficit from last year's 9.4 per cent to 6.3 per cent this year.