Spain

   

Social Policies

#15
Key Findings
With the constraints of austerity abating, Spain falls into the upper-middle ranks internationally (rank 15) in the area of social policies. Its score on this measure has increased by 0.7 points since 2014.

Education outcomes are mediocre due in part to out-of-date curriculum, teaching-quality concerns and overall low funding. Austerity-period cuts are being reversed, and the government has plans to provide universal access to preschool education. Social exclusion rates are falling, but child-poverty rates are a serious concern. The share of employed people living under the poverty threshold is also very high.

The high-quality health care system is quite decentralized. Austerity-era measures excluding migrants from coverage have been reversed. Family policy is underdeveloped, with traditional gender roles persisting. Women’s workplace pay gap is large. Policymakers are beginning to address the issue of gender-based violence.

Though it largely prevents retiree poverty, the pension system is increasingly viewed as unsustainable. Despite little official government action in this area, immigrants’ integration is facilitated by broad societal tolerance. An increase in irregular migration in 2018 has pushed some regions beyond existing infrastructure capacity.

Education

#17

To what extent does education policy deliver high-quality, equitable and efficient education and training?

10
 9

Education policy fully achieves the criteria.
 8
 7
 6


Education policy largely achieves the criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Education policy partially achieves the criteria.
 2
 1

Education policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Education Policy
7
Despite the education system’s outstanding improvement since the 1980s, Spaniards largely regard educational outcomes within their country as mediocre. In fact, the education system was ranked at only 24th place among OECD countries (based on PISA test results). Reasons for the poor results, although the causes differ strongly across regions, include a curriculum regarded as out of date, poor teaching quality and the large number of students who repeat years. Although early school-leaving rates continue to decrease, figures are still very high.

In 2016, education spending was one point of GDP below the OECD average. However, spending levels vary across the regions (most public spending on education is managed at the subnational level by the autonomous communities’ governments). This diversity is the result of differing orientations on education policy, the financial resources available and number of private centers in each region.

The education system continues to experience challenges related to quality and equity. However, the system has been shaped not only by socioeconomic struggles over distribution, but also by conflicts over religious, linguistic-cultural and national identity issues, as well as political factors. In 2018, the government announced that it would provide universal access to preschool education (0-3 years), and would reverse measures implemented during the hardest austerity years, such as the increase in the teacher-student ratio and the increase in instructors’ teaching hours. However, as of the time of writing, funding for these measures had not yet been guaranteed.

Citations:
OECD(2018), Education at a Glance, https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/education-at-a-glance_19991487

EC(2018), Education and Trading Monitor, Spain
https://ec.europa.eu/educat ion/sites/education/files/monitor2017-es_en.pdf

Social Inclusion

#21

To what extent does social policy prevent exclusion and decoupling from society?

10
 9

Policies very effectively enable societal inclusion and ensure equal opportunities.
 8
 7
 6


For the most part, policies enable societal inclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 5
 4
 3


For the most part, policies fail to prevent societal exclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 2
 1

Policies exacerbate unequal opportunities and exclusion from society.
Social Inclusion Policy
6
Societal exclusion remains a problem for Spain. However, the percentage of the population at risk of poverty and social exclusion has been reduced for the third year running, to 26.6% (29.4% in 2014). It has now reached a level similar to the 2010 figure, according to the Spanish statistical institute INE.

Those at a higher risk of marginalization include immigrants, unemployed youth and elderly people with minimal pensions. According to the OECD, the 2017 child-poverty rate of more than 20% is a particularly serious problem; moreover, Spain has the highest youth-poverty rate in Western Europe. Finally, the share of employed people living under the poverty threshold is also very high. The country was given 24th place in the 2017 Social Justice Index. The high long-term poverty rate, along with the absence of an effective policy to lift people out of poverty, has already had negative effects on social coexistence. Seeking to address this situation in 2018, the government created a High Commissioner for the Fight against Childhood Poverty within the Prime Minister’s office.

Nonetheless, Spain is on par with the OECD average in terms of welfare spending on pension, family, health and integration policies as a share of GDP. Moreover, the situation is better with regard to areas of discrimination not associated with poverty, particularly regarding LGBTI rights (see “Non-discrimination”) and gender equality. Two-thirds of the cabinet ministers have been female since June 2018, and the WPS Index (Georgetown University for Women, Peace and Security) ranks Spain at 5th place out of 153 countries with regard to societal inclusion and security for women.

Citations:
EC (2018), Europe 2020 targets - https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-and-fiscal-policy-coordination/eu-economic-governance-monitoring-prevention-correction/european-semester/european-semester-your-country/spain/europe-2020-targets-statistics-and-indicators-spain_en#poverty-and-social-exclusion

INE (2018), Living Conditions Survey
http://www.ine.es/prodyser/espa_cifras/2018/index.html

Bertelmann Stiftung(2018), Social Justice Index Report
https://www.bertelsmann-stift ung.de/fileadmin/files/BSt/Publikat ionen/GrauePublikationen/NW_EU_Soci al_Justice_Index_2017.pdf

Health

#3

To what extent do health care policies provide high-quality, inclusive and cost-efficient health care?

10
 9

Health care policy achieves the criteria fully.
 8
 7
 6


Health care policy achieves the criteria largely.
 5
 4
 3


Health care policy achieves the criteria partly.
 2
 1

Health care policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Health Policy
8
The national health care system is highly decentralized, relatively well-thought out, and largely achieves the criteria of quality, inclusiveness and cost efficiency. According to two recent Bloomberg health-related indexes, which examine 169 economies, Spain is now the healthiest country in the world (it placed sixth in the previous edition, published in 2017), while its health system ranks third in terms of efficiency. OECD data also show that Spain has the second-highest life expectancy, after Japan (and is forecast to become first by 2040). Spaniards’ self-perceptions of their health status and their national health care system reflect a degree of satisfaction that is quite high in cross-OECD comparison. However, rates of mental illnesses, diabetes and drug consumption are higher than the European averages.

Access to a core set of high-quality health services is guaranteed through a public insurance system that covers 99% of the population. However, the number of practicing doctors, nurses and hospital beds per 1,000 residents is relatively low. The most recent reports also emphasize deficiencies related to waiting lists, patient rights and sickness prevention. There is interregional inequality too. The system’s sustainability is at risk over the medium and long term, as a consequence of the aging population and the subsequent increase in the incidence of chronic diseases. During 2018, the austerity-era legislation that had excluded undocumented migrants from health coverage was reversed, and the new government invited regional health authorities and civil society representatives to participate an open debate on reform of the system, with the aim of reestablishing universal coverage.

Citations:
OECD(2018), Spain Country Profile, http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docser ver/download/8117631e.pdf?expires=1 511483073&id=id&accname=guest&check sum=E06FBC18C2F0B44B2F9042D89C87C48 C

Bloomberg (2017), Healthiest Country Index
https://www.bloomberg.com/ne ws/articles/2017-03-20/italy-s-struggling-economy-has-world-s-healthiest-people

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-24/spain-tops-italy-as-world-s-healthiest-nation-while-u-s-slips

Families

#20

To what extent do family support policies enable women to combine parenting with participation in the labor market?

10
 9

Family support policies effectively enable women to combine parenting with employment.
 8
 7
 6


Family support policies provide some support for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 5
 4
 3


Family support policies provide only few opportunities for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 2
 1

Family support policies force most women to opt for either parenting or employment.
Family Policy
7
Spain has a very low fertility rate, which is one partial outcome of the timidity of family-support policies and the instability of the labor market. Traditional family patterns (in which mothers focus on household work and child care duties) have changed rapidly in contemporary Spain, but without any explicit family-support policy, traditional gender roles still keep women in unequal positions. There is a wage and pension-value gap of close to 20% between men and women, and unemployment are disproportionately high among women. The slow implementation of programs providing care for dependents has made it difficult for women to free themselves of the burden of family care. However, men can benefit from a statutory paternity leave ranging from 13 days to four weeks. Since 2018, fathers have been eligible for an additional week of paid paternity leave, and the failed 2019 budget included a further increase in this time.

Following a significant rise in the incidence of gender-based violence, and after numerous public protests and demonstrations, Spain’s political parties approved in 2017 a five-year action plan intended to tackle gender-based violence. In 2018, a nationwide strike demanding an end to unfair wages and domestic violence was held on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Citations:
July 2018, BNA: Paternity Leave Extended
https://www.bna.com/spain-paternity-leave-n73014477429/

EC (2018), Report on equality
https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/950dce57-6222-11e8-ab9c-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

Pensions

#18

To what extent does pension policy realize goals of poverty prevention, intergenerational equity and fiscal sustainability?

10
 9

Pension policy achieves the objectives fully.
 8
 7
 6


Pension policy achieves the objectives largely.
 5
 4
 3


Pension policy achieves the objectives partly.
 2
 1

Pension policy does not achieve the objectives at all.
Pension Policy
7
Spanish pension policy achieves the goal of poverty prevention, but meets intergenerational-equity and fiscal-sustainability standards to only a moderate degree. The pension system represents the largest single piece of public spending (more than €120 billion), and pensioners maintained their purchasing power during the crisis years. Moreover, whereas the poverty rate among Spain’s general population is 26%, the rate among the elderly is only 12%. Thus, the elderly are less economically vulnerable than active but unemployed workers, which demonstrates that the current system does not ensure equity across different generations – that is, pensioners, the active labor force and youth.

The model (with the exception of private pension plans that are publicly subsidized through favorable tax treatment) is based on a pay-as-you-go methodology that relies on current contributors to the insurance system being able to pay the expenses for the current generation of recipients. However, shifting demographics in combination with longer life expectancies are leading to an unsustainable population pyramid that is worse in Spain than anywhere else in Europe. Moreover, the impact of the crisis reduced the country’s accumulated reserves, with the social-security fund diminishing from €66 billion at its peak to just €8 billion. Consequently, debates over the long-term fiscal sustainability of the social-security system have topped the political agenda. In 2018, several demonstrations by pensioners across Spain added additional urgency to the political debate. Pessimistic forecasts show a growing deficit, with pension-related expenditures forecast to rise from 8% of GDP in 2005 to 15% in 2050.

It is very doubtful that the country will be able to maintain a sufficient employment-population ratio or increase productivity enough to compensate for societal aging under the current system. In the 2013 pension reform, a pension revaluation index was introduced, and beginning in 2019, a sustainability factor was to be added linking the level of state pensions to life expectancy. These changes were intended to help the system achieve sustainability in the long run. However, due to societal pressure, the 2018 budget included a 3% increase in the lowest pensions, and a general revaluation of pensions by 1.6% to compensate for inflation. In 2018, the parliamentary committee on public-pension reform agreed to return to the pre-2013 practice of increasing pensions according to the consumer price index, and to eliminate the sustainability factor (or at least delay its introduction until 2023). To date, it has been impossible to establish a broad political consensus among all political parties for reform of the pension system through the creation of new taxes.

Citations:
Universidad de Extremadura (2018), El incremento de las pensiones contributivas
https://www.willistowerswatson.com/es-ES/press/2018/07/el-incremento-de-las-pensiones-contributivas-con-el-ipc-costara-mas-a-cada-cotizante

Integration

#5

How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

10
 9

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
 8
 7
 6


Cultural, education and social policies seek to integrate migrants into society, but have failed to do so effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Cultural, education and social policies do not focus on integrating migrants into society.
 2
 1

Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
Integration Policy
7
Spain ranks 11th out of 38 Western democracies in the latest available edition of the Migrant Integration Policy Index, and is particularly progressive regarding the issues of family reunions and permanent residence. Even though the government has taken little action in this area, the population’s degree of tolerance toward immigrants is striking. In a survey conducted in June 2018 by CIS, the country’s official statistics agency, only 3.5% of Spaniards listed immigration as one of their main concerns. Violent attacks on immigrant groups are very rare, and in contrast to most comparable EU countries, xenophobic populist parties had no representation in the national parliament through the end of the review period (although the new right-wing party Vox, with an anti-immigration dimension in its program, was doing well in the polls). Most immigrants are first-generation, and in the case of Latin Americans, share a common language and cultural links with the native population.

Nevertheless, there is no active policy that has the objective of integrating economic migrants and asylum seekers into Spanish society. Furthermore, illegal immigrants are frequently housed in prisons due to a lack of room at the Foreigner Internment Centers (Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros). Although the Spanish government supported the EU system for the reallocation of refugees, the number of refugees accepted by Spain during 2018 has been very low. In July 2018, the arrivals of irregular migrants in Spain surpassed those in Italy for the first time. In fact, the situation has already reached a critical point in some regions that clearly exceeds the existing infrastructure capacity.

Citations:
Euronews (2018), Is Spain experiencing an immigration boom?
https://www.euronews.com/2018/07/31/immigration-debate-flares-up-in-spain-as-migrant-arrivals-shoot-up

Migrant Integration Policy Index (2015)
http://www.mipex.eu/

Safe Living

#17

How effectively does internal security policy protect citizens against security risks?

10
 9

Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks very effectively.
 8
 7
 6


Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks more or less effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Internal security policy does not effectively protect citizens against security risks.
 2
 1

Internal security policy exacerbates the security risks.
Internal Security Policy
7
Compared with other OECD countries, Spain performs quite satisfactorily in protecting citizens against security risks and public confidence in the police force is high. The official data shows that violent crimes rate is one of the lowest in the world, although the figures are somewhat higher for assaults or muggings. As the terrorist attacks in Madrid in 2004 and Barcelona in 2017 showed, the government of Spain and its citizens are a principal target of jihadist extremism.

Although the share of police officers per capita is among the highest in the world, and the intelligence and police communities have demonstrated their capabilities in terms of fighting terrorism, poor coordination mechanisms among the police forces at the local, regional and national level, as well as politicized intergovernmental relations, reduce the efficiency of the system. During the Catalan conflict, questions of loyalty and trust in the Catalan regional police force were raised. However, after the application of article 155, the regional police force urged its members to behave in a neutral manner, and to avoid taking sides in the conflict. The law on public safety (Organic Law 4/2015) approved in 2015 continues to be controversial, since the first trials based on this legal framework started in 2017. In the eyes of its critics, the new regulation has much more to do with trying to repress political protest than with increasing the protection of citizens.

Citations:
Kölling(2018), Spain, in Leuprecht, (ed.), Public Security in Federal Polities, University of Toronto Press.

OECD(2018), Better Life Index, http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/safety/

Global Inequalities

#23

To what extent does the government demonstrate an active and coherent commitment to promoting equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries?

10
 9

The government actively and coherently engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. It frequently demonstrates initiative and responsibility, and acts as an agenda-setter.
 8
 7
 6


The government actively engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. However, some of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 5
 4
 3


The government shows limited engagement in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. Many of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute (and often undermines) efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries.
Global Social Policy
6
Budget cuts severely restricted the funding available for policies and instruments designed to enhance Spain’s influence abroad. Currently, Spain gives just 0.22% of its GDP (2018) to official development assistance. The conservative Rajoy government approved the 5th multiannual plan for cooperation policy 2018 – 2021 in March 2018. The plan failed to receive the support of the agents involved, mainly due to the lack of budgetary resources and its lack of specific deadlines. As a consequence, Spain has remained at the bottom of the international donor community.

With the change of government, this issue has been given greater political priority. A new coordinating cross-cutting structure for the entire public administration (the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda) was created within the Prime Minister’s Office. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez defended multilateralism and diversity in his first speech in front of the UN General Assembly in September 2018, supporting international action on behalf of the Sustainable Developments Goals and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. However these gestures have yet to be supported with increased resources and more ambitious policies.

Citations:
Donor Tracker: Spain
http://donortracker.org/c ountry/spain

Government of Spain(2018), La cooperación española. - http://www.cooperacionespanola.es/es/v-plan-director-2018-2021
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