The Problems Of Young Families In Spain As Risk Of Poverty Reaches 69%

1. Many young families with children have very low incomes. One third of the people in these households live at risk of poverty, in which the person of reference does not reach the age of 40. They are units where the income barely reaches half the national median: families with two adults with incomes of about 12,000 euros net, for example, mothers who live with a child and only have 5,000 or 6,000 euros per year.

According to INE data from 2019, 69% of young single-parent families are at risk of poverty. And it is the same with many large families.

It is a pattern. Families with children are poorer than families without children, but if the parents are also young, the gap is greater. In young households, 34% are at risk of poverty, compared to 24% of households with children but where the reference person is 40 years old.

But this is not the case throughout Europe. In Spain the risk of poverty is seven points higher for households with children, while in much of Europe it is the other way around.

2. However, Spain is one of the EU countries that has invested the least in families and children in recent years. In 2018, which is the most recent figure, this item barely exceeded 5% of all spending on social protection, only ahead of Italy (4%), the Netherlands (4%) and Portugal (5%), and far from countries like Denmark (11%), Germany (12%) or Estonia (14%).

In Spain, there have been no universal aid per child so far, which does exist in 17 EU countries, according to a study by the La Caixa Social Observatory . Now, the Government has proposed a supplement of 5 0 euros for low-income children , although it is likely that we are still far from countries such as Germany or Ireland, where the income is universal and exceeds 120 euros.

The effects of the minimum living income, which was introduced last year and which should reduce poverty rates in young families, are also yet to be measured.

3. Nursery schools for everyone? In many neighboring countries, it is common for children to attend nursery schools at the age of two, as is the case in Germany (70%), Belgium (80%) or the Nordic countries (90%).

In Spain there is variety – in the Basque Country it is 89% and in Murcia it does not reach 30% – but on average the schooling of two-year-olds is around 50%. In addition, access is unequal: among the minors who attended nursery schools in 2016, according to the INE, there were twice as many high-income children (children from households with the richest 20%) than low-income children.

There are different reasons for not taking young children to nursery schools, but in Spain there is one that appears far above: the lack of resources.

35% of low- or lower-middle-income households needed “child care center” services that were not covered. And the reason for the vast majority was not being able to afford them. In fact, Spain was the European country where the most people claimed economic reasons for not having these needs covered: 51%, compared to 16% for the EU average.

Beyond three years there are still households with problems. Although school is now universally free, still 30% of poor households said in 2016 that they had difficulty meeting the costs of studying.

5 . The labor market faced by young people is a crater , because there is a lack of employment and because it is precarious, but also because of the challenge of reconciling. We have seen that there are people without access to nursery schools, it is not usual for young people to reduce their working hours in Spain, and in the end more than half of the households end up receiving help from grandparents and other relatives to take care of their children.

Difficulties in reconciling work and parenting are, above all, for women. According to the 2018 INE fertility survey, most households are responsible for dressing the children, taking them to the doctor, buying clothes or deciding on meals.

A test of these difficulties is to see what mothers value a job. 45% of 40-year-old women who have children say that the most important thing is their reconciliation measures, the schedule or that they are close to home. Only 25% value economic conditions before anything else, and only 9% can prioritize that the job is interesting.

P.S. Meanwhile, Spain remains one of the countries with the least fertility. It has the lowest rate in the EU (1.2 children per woman), only behind Malta and far from the average (1.6). It has been that way for two decades. The age at which women have their first child has also risen, as in much of Europe, although Spain with 31 years on average remains above most countries on the continent.

The reasons for these transformations are varied, but it is difficult to think that jobs, aid and schools have nothing to do with it.

Chapter 5. Family

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