In 2007, the APDHA (Human Rights Association of Andalusia) started a campaign against social marginalization in Andalusia. This campaign summarized data about general living conditions in Spain from four reliable sources: a 1998 report of the Foundation FOESSA, a 2002 study by IESA (Andalusian Institute of Social Studies), a 2004 study by INE (National Statistics Institute) and the 2005 census.
The main conclusions corresponding to the year 2005 were as follows:
- Spain had a population of 44.1 million individuals, of which 8.5 million (19.9%) lived under the poverty level. 1.8 million individuals (or 430,000 households) were considered in extreme poverty and completely marginalized from society.
- Andalusia had a population of 7.9 million individuals, of which 2.4 million (31.1%) lived under the poverty level. Out of them, 474,360 were younger than 16 year old (or 35.2% of the age group) and 490,725 older than 65 (or 45.8% of the age group).
- In Andalusia, 400,000 individuals (or 100,000 households) were considered in extreme poverty and completely marginalized from society.
- In the province of Malaga, 71,000 individuals or 16,000 households (4.5%) were considered marginalized.
- The best municipalities in the province were Benalmadena, Estepona, Torremolinos, Marbella (809 households – 3.3%), Fuengirola and Mijas, with a ratio of 2-4% of marginalization.
- The worst municipalities were Velez-Malaga, Cartama, Alora with a ratio of 7-10%, and Almogia with 19.9%!
- The average household income in Andalusia was 18,336 euros per year, only above that of Extremadura and below the national average of 21,555 euros.
The APDHA campaign had the merit to raise awareness on shameful statistics for Andalusia. The only problem with their report was the claim that the market economy was a major reason for this situation, a claim I find simplistic and that certainly does not put forward a solution to the problem. The market economy may be harsh as life, may be somewhat constrained, but is the only functioning economic model existing today. It is self-regulating (as shown by the current crisis) and always reinvents itself because it mirrors the human basic self-interest and survival drive. ¨Capitalism creates a tug-of-war within each of us. We are alternatively the aggressive entrepreneur and the couch potato, who subliminally prefers the lessened competitive stress of an economy where all participants have equal income.¨ Alan Greenspan.
Andalusia has unfortunately not changed much since 2005. It is still one of the poorest regions of Spain, while a few of its municipalities show the highest income per capita in the country. The Andalusian government, headed by the socialist party since the return of Spanish democracy has led by inertia without a clear economic model because of their uneasiness with market economy (a phenomenon that also led to the abysmal situation of the French socialist party).
The policies of social inclusion have obviously not worked in Andalusia. Social assistance, even if well-founded and necessary, must not result in dependence and unaccountability. The government should focus instead on policies of empowerment with education at its core.
Filed under: Life in Marbella | Tagged: Andalusia, population, poverty | Leave a Comment »