Growth does not equal well-being

Growth does not equal well-being

By Xavier Caño Tamayo

According to the latest Labor Force Survey (EPA), during 2015 in Spain there were 678,200 fewer unemployed persons. What a jelly rush the press related to the regime. Apparently. The figure has a trick.

According to the EPA itself, the active population (that works or can work) today is 22,873,700, but in 2011 they were just over 23,400,000. Less active population. Today, 17.9 million jobs, but in 2007 there were 20.6. In reality, a quarter of this drop in unemployment is a reduction in the workforce, not the unemployed who have found employment. And there is less active population because many immigrants have returned to their country, numerous nationals (especially young people) have emigrated and emigrate, long-term unemployed people have thrown in the towel and stopped looking for work ... Numbers that are not counted in real unemployment.

The indisputable thing is that a strike of more than 20% remains stubborn while breaking the record for temporary contracts. In addition to the fact that most temporary contracts are of shorter duration. In 2006 the average was 79 days, but in 2015 it is only 53 working days. Less hours, less salary. More difficulties, more poverty. Without forgetting that in seven years, barely a third of the jobs destroyed since 2008 have been created. And it is not exactly a quality job. According to Eurostat, 91% of temporary employees in Spain have had no other option, it is not that they have preferred to be temporary. Unemployment and precariousness are on the way to being permanent, structural.

And, against the fallacious self-promotion of job creation (which is not so much or in conditions), the harsh reality shows that the evolution of capitalism itself does not allow there to be employment for everyone. An uncomfortable truth amid the fervor for growth as a prodigious panacea.

The second disturbing truth is that economic growth and people's well-being do not go hand in hand. Or they go against it. That the economy grows does not mean more general welfare. Well-being, understood as the enjoyment of a dignified life, depends on the distribution of wealth. And there we puncture the bone. Low wages, less and worse public services, social cuts ... Less social income for the majority.

Economic growth reflects an economy, its wealth, GDP ... But it is useless for GDP to increase, if the resulting wealth is not distributed with minimal justice and equity. Because economic growth is not the welfare of the people.

From 1940 to 1981, Brazil's GDP increased from 6% to 9% each decade. Did Brazilians live better in those years? No. They were years of poverty, uncertainty and suffering, like the ones before and after. Until Lula was elected President, he seriously set out to reduce poverty and the situation began to change.

Closer in time, in 2010, Libya was the second country in the world with the highest economic growth, 10.6%. Paradoxically, in that country that was growing non-stop, the only hope was to emigrate. Mexico grew 6% annually from 1930 to 1970, but there were more and more poor and extreme poor ...

As the economist Fernando Luengo recalls, “economic growth does not create enough jobs, neither in quantity nor in quality, it is compatible with the reduction of wages and the enrichment of the elites, it deprives the public administrations of resources, it consumes scarce resources and it is based on the over-exploitation of the weaker economies and peoples by the stronger ones ”.

So fewer wolves with growth and job creation. As long as there are 15% of poor workers in Spain, more than 50% of youth unemployment and mostly precarious and poorly paid employment, we cannot speak of economic improvement.

It is the people that matter, not the big figures that hide reality and are juggled with. For example, a button: with so much triumphant speech, in January in Spain there were 57,247 more unemployed people and also in January Social Security lost more than 204,000 contributors (unemployed or without any protection in the underground economy). What growth are we talking about?


Video: Wealth inequality in the UK (July 2021).