Rendered particularly anxious by the austerity plans currently in progress or on their way, people in these three countries manifest a particularly strong aversion to risk. However, risk attitudes in these countries are not totally identical. The French and Italians are extremely reluctant to take risks whereas the attitudes and perceptions of the Spanish, whose economic and social situation is under far greater pressure, are closer to those of the Greeks.
Indeed, although Spain is undeniably still one of the countries most adverse to risk taking, the very strongly deteriorated economic and social conditions (nearly a quarter of the population is currently unemployed) appear to be changing attitudes. Loss of employment is the main risk to which Spaniards feel exposed. A large majority of the people surveyed view risk as a danger to be avoided (65% versus 51% overall). Spaniards associate risk with notions such as danger (78% versus 70% overall), irresponsibility (43% versus 40%) and fear (36% versus 33%).
However, confronted with an increasingly difficult situation, the majority of Spaniards feel that you have to take risks in order to succeed (55% versus 44% for all the countries surveyed). They are among the people who most strongly consider that young people should be taught that in life ‘you must know how to take risks and be prepared to pay the price if you fail’ (70% versus 56% overall).
Spaniards are probably at a crossroads, caught between real anxiety in the face of a constantly deteriorating situation and the feeling that people now have to take risks in order to survive. In the longer term, Spain could therefore join the group of countries with a positive view of risk taking.
For their part, the French and Italians are amongst the most risk adverse people in the European Union. A significant majority consider that risk is a danger to be avoided (62% of French and 58% of Italians versus the overall average of 51%). The words they associate with risk are above all ‘danger’ (79% of French respondents), ‘irresponsibility’ (53% of Italian respondents) and ‘fear’ (43% of French respondents). Moreover, the Italians and the French are the least inclined to take risks (respectively 61% and 58% versus the overall average of 70%).
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