ECONOMY

Nation's wealth gap widens as economic crisis grinds on

Only Romania and Latvia have bigger disparities among EU states

The economic crisis is increasing the inequality gap between rich and poor in Spain, a report sponsored by the charity group Cáritas shows. The latest analysis indicates that 580,000 households have no income whatsoever, a 34-percent rise from 2007, while home foreclosures quadrupled to nearly 100,000 in 2010.

The figures are painful by themselves, but even more so when compared with the rest of the European Union: the Spanish poverty rate is now the third highest in the group of 21 member states, only lower than Romania and Latvia.

The gap between rich and poor has also been widening in recent years. Inequality growth in Spain between 2007 and 2010 was twice that of France, three times that of Germany and almost five times the EU average.

These results, which constitute a clear threat to social cohesion in Spain, were released on Wednesday by the FOESSA Foundation, a social studies group sponsored by the Catholic charity Cáritas.

"Poverty is more extensive, more intense and more chronic now," said Sebastián Mora, secretary general of Cáritas, at the presentation.

The paper shows that 30 percent of households have trouble making ends meet by the end of the month, and that 41 percent have no capacity to deal with unexpected expenses. What is worse, 3.3 percent of homes have no income whatsoever with 5.3 million people out of work.

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