Spanish families, especially those in the Balearics, are more optimistic about the future than in 1995, while the difference between regions in this respect has shrunk, according to a report drawn up by the Caixa Cataluña and published yesterday. The report says that over the past five years (1995-2000) and coinciding with a dynamic period in the labour market, the confidence of Spanish families has improved. The previous survey, compiled in 1995, showed that families were very pessimistic, with an average degree of confidence of -20 points. Five years later, the level of confidence was eight points. The only communities with a negative response were Extremadura and Andalucia, with -8 and -6 points respectively, although this was an improvement over 1995, when the levels were -35 and -37 points. The Balearics were listed as the most optimistic region, with 17 points, the same as Navarre. They were followed by Aragon (15), La Rioja (14) and Murcia (12). The favourable evolution of the labour market in the Mediterranean basin and the Ebro in the second half of the Nineties, together with a major improvement in the unemployment situation in Andalucia meant that families in the eastern half of the Peninsula were the most optimistic. On the other hand, the poor functioning of the labour market in the north west, especially Extremadura and Madrid, has limited the expectations of families, because the drop in unemployment was much more moderate. The evolution of confidence in Murcia was especially notable, according to the report, coinciding with the fact that it has one of the most dynamic labour markets. Madrid and Galicia started the five year period with a level of confidence higher than the Spanish average, but by the year 2000 it had dropped below. The Caixa Cataluña report says that the communities of Asturias, the Balearics and Navarre shared the first place for the highest degree of optimism on an annual basis over the five year period.

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