Country for Old Men Little reminder about the situation that will explode in Spain in fewer time than some people think: pensions, education issues, etc.

I was talking with some friends in a pub when they asked me how I saw the future. My answer: ‘Tough’.

In fact, today (July 31st, 2016), I read few headers in the (Spanish) journal, and it made me reaffirm my thoughts. Here we can see various links (in Spanish), such as:

  1. Almost 60% of unemployed people have been looking for a job for longer than a year (and 781,700 of them are above 50): Link
  2. PP warns PSOE and Ciudadanos before the beginning of the negotiations: Rajoy or back to the elections: Link
  3. Students that fail the ‘revalidation exam’ of the ESO (Secondary Compulsory Education) will only be able to enroll in a Basic Job Training: Link

The first piece of news shows that the unemployment problem we are facing here in Spain is systemic, not momentary. In fact, the long duration unemployment has dramatically increased in these last years.

The second one reminds us that we still don’t have any Government. To be honest, I haven’t seen any remarkable differences with or without it, but it’s getting quite dull.

With the last one, I remembered the revalidation exams that maddened a bunch of educators in Spain will finally be applied. As they mention in that link, I also believe that the school failure will increase as the problem of the average student is to find a motivation to study, to discover, and to grasp the utility of learning. And all that stuff won’t be obtained forcing them to study for a punctual test that might have an impact on their future.

Bored student
(Source: Pixabay)

Linked to our crappy educational system, I’d like to highlight the critique José Antonio Fernández Bravo (dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Education of the University Camilo José Cela) does in this interview (Spanish) to it. In fact, he reminds us that education is an essential way to ‘learn to generate knowledge’ or ‘to develop a listening culture, not an meaningless culture of the effort’.

Anyway, that came to my mind after having read the news for about 20 minutes. After that, I discovered at this link of the INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadística – in English: National Institute of Statistics; pages 10 to 13) that the future forecasts for young people are… quite pessimistic, just looking to a few demographic indicators.

  • To begin with, the population pyramid. That plot should have a pyramid shape. As we saw in a previous post about the Brexit, in the UK the distribution wasn’t so good, but at least it was better than here in Spain. So, when the ‘Baby Boom’ generation reaches to its 60’s or 70’s, we will certainly have some fun.
  • Secondly, the fertility rate. Spain’s indicator here is 1.27 children per woman, which isn’t enough to stabilize the aforementioned issue. It is estimated that an indicator of 2 children per woman has to be reached so that the generational relief happens in a country. But, according to the Eurostat’s data on the INE’s link, none of the countries reach that level at the indicator.
  • In addition, we should consider the mortality rate. In Spain we are lucky enough to have the longest life expectancy in Europe; exactly, 83.2 years of life. Wonderful! Or not?

And these facts will keep developing while the time passes: people that currently are on their 50’s and 60’s will retire, young workers will try to find a job, etc. Only on those 3 aforementioned details, we can see that the population pyramid is taking a form it shouldn’t where there are much more old people than young people, which means they won’t be working at all. Besides, we can see that the fertility rate and the mortality rate are aggravating the trend: older old people, and less young people alive.

In this context, there are some people about to retire that think they will receive enough pension to make ends meet during their last years of life (which are ironically longer than ever), as if anything happened. But, a person that knows what is happening and knows looking at some few data, he or she will easily realize that it’s highly unlikely it will be receiving the expected benefits.

Besides, it’s curious to see how the opposition party tells the (caretaker) Government that a lot of money from ‘the pensions’ piggy bank’ is being taken. And someone might ask: what’s that?

Basically, it’s a money fund that the Social Security stored during several years, which main aim is to cover the pensions’ financing in case they cannot be paid with the State’s annual income. Let’s do then a quick search via Google to know our piggy bank’s current situation, and we can find the following headline in El País journal (2nd July, 2016):

The Social Security takes another 8.7 billion euros from the Backup Fund

With the following plot, which is quite self-explanatory:

Social Security’s Backup Fund’s evolution in the last decade (Source: EL PAIS)

So, if the situation doesn’t improve soon, we will spend the leftover of our Backup Fund in roughly 3 years, and then, our Government will have serious issues to funnel money to the people. We should also consider that it is said that ‘unemployment is being tackled properly‘, but Treasury is receiving less and less money from the salaries’ taxes; i.e., people have lower wages because of their part-time jobs, so they have to pay less on taxes. If we add to this situation the ‘capital flight’ that is happening in Spain, we will hardly stabilize the Treasury.

To conclude, some educative measures like the revalidation tests are making that young people, little by little, lose the will to learn, focusing on a ‘obligation to study to fullfil some objectives’, instead of going deeper into the learning process. And looking at our situation, this should be the least convenient context for a Government that, allegedly, should be interested in the citizens’ long-term welfare. How so? Because Governments should be acting as institutions that, gathering the knowledge and skills people have, create an infrastructure to help the society.

Anyway, this is nothing new, and if we keep this stagnant tendency, little will change. It was said once though: ‘Tout pour le peuple, rien par le peuple‘ (Everything for the people, without the people’s consent).

[Originally written at July 31st, 2016]