Impact of recession on Spanish society

According to a survey carried out by the Pfizer Foundation on the impact of the recession on the standard of living of Spaniards, social services and the national health service in Spain Spaniards are on the whole pessimistic about the future. Moreover this negativity is affecting their feeing of wellbeing.

The survey, based on interviews with 1,200 Spanish citizens carried out in October this year, found that almost half of those questioned feared losing their jobs next year (44.3%) while 75% of those questioned who are self employed or run a business fear that the employment market will deteriorate. Furthermore, 86.2% of those questioned who are unemployed believe that it will be difficult for them to find a new job.

The findings of the survey were presented yesterday at the 7th Social Debate Forum. Experts who attended the meeting agreed on the whole that the Spanish population was frightened and feared for the economic future of the country. Doctor Enrique Baca, a specialist in Psychiatry and Neurology, said that the fear of the future demonstrated by this latest survey could result in ‘paralysis’ in economic terms.

He said that people’s states of mind did not appear to be linked to any ‘objective facts’ given that almost half of those questioned in the survey declared that their personal circumstances were the same as two years ago before the recession began.

However, he added that the fear of the recession demonstrated by the survey could lead to feelings of hopelessness which could then result in social discontentment which would make the problem infinitely worse.

Out of the total number of people questioned for the survey 28% said that their standard of living had gone down, above all because their income had fallen or their health had deteriorated while 44% of those questioned suffered more stress and tension than two years ago due to the recession and said that their sleep had been affected.

Almost half of the people questioned said that they had been forced to change their habits or give something up such as leisure activities or holidays.

Nevertheless, the top concern on everybody’s mind was their employment situation (26.3%) followed by health, the employment situation of a relative and the recession in general. The survey also found that many people were worried about social services being affected by the recession and although half of those questioned believed that health care is good or very good 70.1% were worried about it being damaged both in the short and long term. However, six out of every ten people included in the survey said that the medical attention they have received this year was no different to other years.

The survey found that 69.9% of the population were worried about the affects of the recession on public education and 73.2% felt the same about social benefits and pensions – 73.7% were worried about the affects of the recession on subsidies and unemployment benefits.

As far as eating habits are concerned 74.6% believe that they have not been affected while 32.2% said that they had been forced to shop differently as a result of the recession.

With regards to personal hygiene and taking care of physical appearance 41.9% said that this area of their lives had been affected due to economic reasons while 26.4% said that it had been affected due to the lack of time.

Nearly all of those questioned for the survey rejected postponing the age of retirement (78.9%) and increasing the number of years contribution to pension funds although people were in general sympathetic to the idea of adding years on to working mothers contributions into their pension funds – 77.8% were in favour with just 17% were against this idea.

The idea of having to pay a contribution to health care or to pay a small amount on a monthly basis for public education were rejected by most people in the survey.