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Two parts cultural commentary, one part personal ranting. Serve with a side of political debate. May contain sarcasm.

5 Facts That Will Completely Destroy Your Opinion of Spain
14 October 2014 @ 18:00

1) 1 in 5 People in Spain Live in Poverty


Spain has a poverty rate of 20.4% and this rises to 26.7% for under 16s. That's one in five people, but a quarter of all children that live in poverty


The Spanish coastline may be lined with 4 and 5* beachfront hotels but a stone's throw inland many families are struggling to make ends meet. Spain has the second highest poverty rate in Europe, only after Romania. There are less people living below the poverty line in Bulgaria, Estonia and Croatia. 


Poverty as defined by INE (the Spanish Institute of Statistics- Instituto Nacional de Estadística), means that the family does not have a stable or sufficient enough income to, for example, heat their house in winter, to run a car or to use the washing machine. It also means they are unable to buy the food they want to eat (e.g. meat or fish may be too expensive), they're unable to save any money and would be crippled if they had to pay an unexpected cost.




2) The average Spanish graduate has the skill set of a 15 year old Japanese child.


A recent OECD study has shown that Spanish university graduates perform worse in basic mathematics and language comprehension tests than any other country (in the OECD). Their levels are so low that final year high schools students from countries including the Czech Republic, Australia and Slovakia beat them. According to this report, Spanish university graduates are outsmarted academically by 15 year olds in Japan. 


The General Secretary of the OECD has described the level of  education in Spain as "alarming".



Te Interesa / La Sexta / Photo Credit: CNN


3) Yet Spain is the most  "over qualified" nation in the EU


Spain produces more graduates than any other EU country; 33.6% of the adult Spanish population (aged between 25-65) have at least a Batchelor's degree compared with the 28.6% EU average. Since the economic recession, many people believe that going to university is the only way to guarantee employment in a time of economic hardship. 


For this reason Spain also has the highest level of "over-qualified workers" in the EU; 63.4% of university graduates are working a post that doesn't require their degree and one in three are working a post that requires no formal academic qualification at all (e.g. waitering or cleaning hotels). 


The irony is stark; Spain produces a surplus of graduates with a below-par education, yet most Spaniards are working in jobs that don't require a degree at all. 



Te Interesa / Photo Credit: Fortune


4) Spaniards work harder than Germans


A EuroStat report has shown that Spanish workers work more hours than most other EU countries (only Czechs and Greeks work more hours than Spaniards). On average a Spanish worker works 1,690 hours and gets 22 days holiday per year. In comparison Germans work 1,413 hours and have 30 days holiday a year. 


So on average Spaniards work a whole 277 hours more a year than Germans. That's 5.3 hours a week more. 


The kicker is that, despite this, Germans earn more and their economy isn't in crisis. How so? Spanish workers are just less productive. Eurostat have devised a way of measuring worker productivity which is too complicated for me to understand but the conclusion is this; productivity in Spain: 107.1, productivity in Germany 124.8. So despite working less hours per week and having more days off, Germans are still more productive. They just get more done in a shorter period of time. 


Many economists put this down to the Spanish working day; usually people start work later (shops usually open at 10am for example), then workers take two hours off for lunch and then go back to work at 4 or 5 in the afternoon; the time when many Germans are finishing work. The banks are generally only open 9am-2pm Monday-Friday which means that if businesses need to contact the bank they'll often have to wait till the following working day.


So the preconception that Spaniards are lazy is completely wrong. They're not. They're just unproductive. 




5) Over Half a Million People Left Spain Last Year


             Emigration in Spain 2008-2013

Having read the first four points, number five probably shouldn't be that surprising. In 2013 547,890 people emigrated from Spain, giving Spain a net migration of -256,849. 


85% of the people leaving are people who moved to Spain during the economic boom of the early 2000s and are now returning to their home countries. Top of the list of people returning home are Romanians, Moroccans and Latin Americans; showing that many families feel the situation is better in their own countries than in Spain. Better in Romania and Morocco than Spain.


Interestingly only 69,965 Brits returned home between 2008-2013 (out of an estimated 1 million Brits living in Spain). This is possibly because the large majority of Brits living in Spain are retired, live in designated "expat zones" and are unaffected by the points listed above.


As for me, I will be joining the 69,965 Brits who've moved back to the UK very, very soon. 



Expansion  Huffington Post / Photo Credit: Huffington Post.

Like 0


Mickyfinn said:
15 October 2014 @ 09:00

Nice piece, well written and with attributable links.
However the title is wrong. In my case your article simply confirms what I already knew about Spain.

Spain is a developing country with a young democracy. Comparing Spain to more developed and richer nations is erroneous and actually means very little.

What might be more interesting is predicting the nations future. I see a great one. Maybe many decades away but when your on the bottom the only way is up. The Spanish people have the same ambitions as everyone else and have the will to succeed.

morocco said:
18 October 2014 @ 16:28

Why cant spain put their young people to work.There are many half built and abandomed construction sites that could provide work and housing for them.There must be a way to combine the two and solve two problems at once. If you leave young people abandoned as the saying goes idle hands find evil work and the whole of spain may pay the price for this.Someone in the government needs to take the initive to give young spaniards hope for the future.

cbrammeld said:
20 October 2014 @ 15:44

Similar levels of poverty as Scotland and parts of London has child poverty at 49%. Figs include the huge amount of benefits in the UK.

Spain will recover but it will be a slow process.

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