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Pessimism gap in Spain among the largest of EU

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Pessimism gap in Spain among the largest of EU

While 57% of respondents in Spain are pessimistic about the future of their country, only 7% expect their personal life to get worse in the next 12 months. This pessimism gap, which relates to the contrast between societal and personal perceptions of the future, of 50 percentage points in Spain is among the largest of the EU27. The European average equals 34 percentage points, however, the variation is large with Croatia (61 percentage points) and Luxembourg (6 percentage points) on opposite ends of the scale.

Eurofound’s research report Towards the future of Europe: Social factors shaping optimism and pessimism among citizens explores how the level of optimism differs in the Member States in relation to country context pre-pandemic. It shows that 49% of European citizens think that things in their country are going in the wrong direction. While Greece has the highest share of societal pessimists (75%), the report points out that some more affluent countries, such as France (63%), Belgium (56%) and Italy (54%), together with Spain, are also societally very pessimistic. In addition, 58% of people in Spain think that life will be more difficult for today’s young people than it is for adults today – again higher than the EU average of 54%.

Social optimism, on the other hand, refers to a general expectation that social issues will turn out well. In Spain, 44.5% of people can be characterised as optimists, and 33.8% as pessimists, in line with the EU27 averages of 43% optimists and 36% pessimists. According to the Social Optimism Index, developed by Eurofound, the country scores 0.132, just behind Ireland and Denmark (0.687 and 0.582 respectively), whereas Greece and France (-0.650 and -0.262) can be found on the opposite side of the Index.

In Eurofound’s recent large-scale Living, working and COVID-19 online survey, the proportion of respondents in Spain who negatively assess both their past and future financial situation decreased in spring 2021 compared to the two earlier rounds (April and July 2020). With a decline of 10 percentage points (31.5% in summer 2020, 21.6% in spring 2021), financial outlook in Spain improved significantly, in line with developments across the EU. Despite this, in February and March 2021, almost half (44.5%) of respondents indicated to have difficulties making ends meet.

The third round of the unique pan-EU survey was fielded in February and March 2021 and the analysis is based on a sample of 46,800 responses, and an overall sample of 138,629 across all three rounds. It sheds light on the social and economic situation of people across Europe following nearly a full year of living with COVID-19 restrictions.

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Anna Gallinat

Anna Gallinat

Communication Project Officer

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Eurofound, a tripartite European Union Agency, provides knowledge to assist in the development of social, employment and work-related policies

Eurofound (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) is a tripartite EU body, whose mission is to provide knowledge to assist in the development of better social, employment and work-related policies.

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