Thu Sep 12th, 2013 at 10:11:58 AM EST
A Cautionary Tale - The true cost of austerity and inequality in Europe
It could take up to 25 years to regain living standards prior to the economic crisis
If left unchecked, austerity policies could put between 15 and 25 million more Europeans at risk of poverty by 2025 - nearing the population of the Netherlands and Austria combined. This would bring the number of people at risk of poverty in Europe up to 146 million, over a quarter of the population, warns international agency Oxfam as EU Finance Ministers meet in Vilnius tomorrow.
Oxfam's new report, A Cautionary Tale Full report(pdf), Executive summary (pdf), finds that austerity measures introduced to balance the books following the 4.5 trillion bank bail-out are instead causing more poverty and inequality that could last for the next two decades.
Meanwhile, austerity is failing to cut debt ratios, as it was supposed to, or trigger inclusive economic growth.
European austerity programs have dismantled the mechanisms that reduce inequality and enable equitable growth.
With inequality and poverty on the rise, Europe is facing a lost decade. An additional 15 to 25 million people across Europe could face the prospect of living in poverty by 2025 if austerity measures continue. Oxfam knows this because it has seen it before.
The austerity programs bear a striking resemblance to the ruinous structural adjustment policies imposed on Latin America, South-East Asia, and sub-Saharan African in the 1980s and 1990s. These policies were a failure: a medicine that sought to cure the disease by killing the patient. They cannot be allowed to happen again.