Precarious living conditions arise for many reasons, which vary from family to family. However, there are similarities such as, for example, family burdens due to illness, reduced physical or mental efficiency, and misfortune. Nobody chooses this situation of their own free will. Never-theless, economic hardship in our society often rhymes with contempt, prejudice and social stig-ma.
The reasons behind difficult living conditions often arise from the work situation. Whoever works in the low-wage sector cannot find a job and has to scrape by in temporary employment or only has a small workload and has no possibility to build a solid base for themselves and their own family. In Switzerland there are some 140,000 of these so-called Working Poor – women and men who, in spite of holding a full-time job, struggle to make ends meet to cover the basic needs of their family.
The additional risk involved by lack of training
Additionally at risk are men and women who have already experienced difficulties at school and only managed to complete the course with lots of support. Subsequently, they have often strug-gled to find a suitable place as an apprentice and to complete a professional training. With no pro-fessional qualification at all or equipped solely with a basic skill, they have great trouble finding reg-ular, well-paid employment.
The aftermath of misfortune
Single mothers and fathers are particularly at risk of poverty. In this situation, for example, even a child’s illness can quickly lead to difficult life circumstances that cannot be resolved without help sought outside the family. In addition, after a separation, single parents struggle to find suitable accommodation, with an affordable rent. They are obliged to accept a long commute to work or cramped living conditions. This feeling of constant insecurity is a great burden, especially for the children. Families with three or more children are also threatened by poverty.
There is a fine line between “just about scraping by” and “depending on aid”. About one out of four people in Switzerland living with children do not have enough savings to be able to cover unex-pected expenses of CHF 2,000. Among other things, this means that parents with a sick child do not consult a doctor because they cannot afford to pay for the “deductible” amount required to be paid before medical insurance covers medical treatment. All expenses that are not absolutely urgent are avoided, as well as holidays.