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Synthesis 2013 > Spain

Spain 2013

In Spain, the already severe situation (in the light of the 2012 results) has worsened.

An already high level of concern which continues to rise

The level of concern of Spanish citizens, already high in 2012, is now extreme and fear has spread to all aspects of their life.

Eleven of the seventeen risks tested that can affect someone’s health, property or family members (ranging from the death of a member of the household to a possible loss of autonomy or the theft of one’s car) are now a source of concern to more than 75% of the Spanish respondents (compared to only 2 out of 17 for the European average).

The sources of anxiety are indeed numerous in the eyes of Spanish people, be it the possible death of a member of their household (87%; +12 points compared to 2012), a serious illness concerning themselves (86%; +3) or someone close to them (89%; +4) or risks that are usually much less worrying, such as a temporary incapacity affecting a member of the household (84% compared to 65% on average) or the possible theft or destruction of one’s car (65% compared to 65% for the European average).

The fear of unemployment, already particularly high in Spain in 2012, is even stronger now, which is not surprising owing to the current unemployment levels in Spain. Unemployment is now considered the most worrying risk (51% cite it among the 3 most worrying risks compared to 38% for the European average), even more than financial risks (47%) or medical risks (42%) which are on average usually considered more worrying. In Spain, the risk of unemployment is even more cited than last year (+4 points) when it was already the most dreaded.
In a coherent manner, Spanish citizens are also much more concerned than the average by the possibility of losing their job (74% compared to 56% for the European average) or their spouse/partner losing his/her job (65% compared to 49%).

A failing welfare system

In the current context, only 30% of the Spaniards consider that their national welfare system works well (even less than the 43% European average). A large majority considers on the contrary that it works poorly (70% including 19% who even consider it works “very poorly”).

It is therefore no surprise that 75% of the Spanish population consider their country less advanced than its European neighbours when it comes to social welfare (including 44% who consider it is “much less advanced”) and that 94% consider their national welfare system should be reformed.

Although cuts have already been severe in the country and Spanish nationals consider more necessary than the average that the state would increase its level of assistance, they anticipate more efforts to come: about two third of them consider the public sector will lower its support when it comes to family assistance (67% compared to 57% for the European average), retirement pensions (66% compared to 52%), inability to care for oneself (66% compared to 48%), disability (64% compared to 48%), assistance for the neediest (64% compared to 50%), unemployment benefits (67% compared to 53%), optical and dental treatment or care (65% compared to 52%), hospitalization (67% compared to 53%) or reimbursement of medication and medical examinations (68% compared to 57%).

Spanish citizens are therefore even more convinced than the European average that the state will in the coming years play an ever smaller role when it comes to social welfare (63% compared to 49% on average) and that solidarities will depend increasingly on families (71% compared to 59% on average) and associations (56% compared to 42%). In their opinion, private and mutual insurance companies will also play a greater role, so as other Europeans think (61% in Spain, 60% on average).

Spaniards remain however convinced that in an effective model of social welfare, the State has an important role to play (85% think so including 33% who consider it should have the biggest role), and when they see the protecting capacity of the State fading, reaffirm that the model of protection from risk that best meets their current expectations is one in which destitute, who cannot pay for protection, are also covered (56% compared to 46% on average who cite it among the 3 preferred models).

A heightened sense of vulnerability

Compared to 5 years ago (and compared to other Europeans), Spanish citizens feel much more vulnerable towards a series of risks: experiencing financial difficulties (74% consider they are more at risk today, compared to 62% for the European average), being plunged into a precarious situation (73%; compared to 59% on average), losing their job (68% compared to 51%) or even experiencing family-related difficulties, like a divorce or disputes (39% compared to 33% on average). The feeling of vulnerability is increasingly severe for a significant part of the population, especially when it comes to the possibility of unemployment (45% consider they are “much more” at risk today than 5 years ago to lose their job).

Almost one Spanish citizen in two now considers he/she is less well protected against these risks (48% compared to 40% on average).

In this context, risk-taking appears even more dangerous… but also even more necessary

In the context of rising concerns and intense feelings of vulnerability, risk is considered by a vast majority of Spanish as a danger to be avoided (73%; +7), rather than something exciting (27%; -7).
Spain is the country (by far) where risk is considered the most dangerous (even more than in Germany) and Spanish citizens seem to be much more cautious than they used to be (65% consider they personally take risks; -16 points compared to 2012).

However, almost one Spanish respondent in two still considers that risk-taking is promoted in the country (47% compared to 41% on average). Even more interestingly, 73% (+3) consider that young people should be taught that in life, you have to be able to take risks, even if you end up paying the price of failing (compared to 59% on average).

In Spain, if risk-taking is given the economic context and the ineffective welfare system increasingly considered as a danger, it seems it is at the same time seen as the only way out.

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