Poverty and social inequality on the rise.jpg

Poverty and social inequality on the rise

A EUROPEAN Union report has revealed that the divide between the rich and poor in Portugal is the worst of all 25 member states.

According to the Eurostat report, there are nearly one million Portuguese citizens (957,000) living on less than 10 euros a day.

The shocking conclusions were backed up by another Portuguese study carried out by Alfredo Bruto da Costa that concluded that, between 1995 and 2000, one half of the Portuguese experienced at least one year in poverty. And, among the poor, 52.4 per cent had only their job as their main source of income or, in other words, many people in employment were having difficulties since their salaries were not sufficient to satisfy their basic needs.

Successive programmes aimed at fighting poverty almost always came up with the same conclusion – inefficiency.

These were the conclusions of the study Examining Poverty in Portugal, Olhar sobre a Pobreza em Portugal, by the Centre of Studies for Social Intervention (CEIS) to be published next month.

The study reveals a “phenomenon of unexpected dimensions” and revealed that 54 per cent of families living in poverty had been in that situation for three or more years.

The study’s definition of poverty was “a situation of deprivation because of a lack of financial resources.”

The poverty line was defined as a monthly income of 388 euros in 12 months which amounted to 47 per cent of Portuguese families or 46 per cent of the population.

In extreme situations, 6.5 per cent of those living in poverty had done so throughout the six years analysed in the study (1995-2000).

The study took into account that the unemployed made up a relatively insignificant part of those considered to be living in poverty (4.7 per cent).

Unemployed

The authors of the study, Alfredo Bruto da Costa, Isabel Baptista, Pedro Perista, and Paula Carrilho, added that there were unemployed that were not classified as such because they didn’t have the right to unemployment benefit or weren’t on any official records.

Among the unemployed, over a half (53.9 per cent) were poor while 61 per cent of those categorised as poor didn’t have the money to heat their homes in the winter, while 36 per cent of those not classified as poor said the same. Twelve per cent of the poor didn’t have a bath or shower, and 10 per cent didn’t have a toilet.

These facts and others such as possessing a telephone or living in an area surrounded by rubbish or without rubbish collection services led the investigators to conclude that around 40 per cent of the Portuguese population suffered some form of basic needs deprivation in the period covered by the study, while 18.3 per cent of the population didn’t reach the end of the month with sufficient money.

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