The Austerity Policies: Which Impact on the Mediterranean Welfare?
The main goal of this article is to show the impact of the austerity policies adopted in the Mediterranean countries of the euro area on their welfare systems. We emphasize as a crucial aspect the asymmetry existing between the deep causes of the crisis in the euro area and the policy response encouraged by the main international institutions: while available evidence does not allow us to single out lack of scal discipline as a concurrent determinant of the 2011 sovereign debt, reforms implemented to cope with it concentrated on sharp reductions in public expenditure. Together with other sectoral interventions (in particular on labour market), this line of action is deeply changing the main characteristics of the welfare states built in the second half of 20th century in such countries. Analyzing in detail the policies carried out in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy since 2011, the article highlights a substantial similarity, notwithstanding the relevant differences in economic fundamentals of these countries. In addition, in most cases, policy choices show a remarkable continuity with reforms undertaken well before the crisis, which in many regards fed the real unbalances at the root of the crisis itself. For this reason, it is not surprising that the effects of these recovery policy are, for now, far from being satisfactory: not only they have brought about a further deterioration of public nances; they have also worsened the economic and social condition of a large part of the population, with signi cant increase in inequality and poverty.
Keywords: Welfare State; Austerity policies; Sovereign crisis