Lagging productivity and the need for structural reforms in Spain

Lagging productivity and the need for structural reforms in Spain

Fecha: noviembre 2021

Joaquín Maudos


SEFO, Spanish and International Economic & Financial Outlook, V. 10 N.º 6 (November 2021)

For the past two decades, Spain’s economic growth has been underpinned by the accumulation of factors of production, with productivity undermining growth. In fact, since 2000, total factor productivity (TFP) has fallen by 14.7%, which helps explain why GDP per capita in Spain trails the
eurozone average by 18.5%, with productivity per hour worked also lagging by 14.1%. Behind that poor performance in productivity lies scant investment in its determinants, as illustrated by the fact that Spain lags the European average in variables, such as its stock of technological capital relative to GDP (66.1% lower), its stock of human capital (4.2% lower), its stock of public capital (26.6% lower per capita) and its stock of productive capital per employee (29.9% lower), among others. The COVID-19 crisis has served to exacerbate Spain’s productivity problem, with the loss of work and falling TFP contributing to the marked decline in 2020. In order to reverse this trend, structural reforms alongside the deployment of European recovery funds will be necessary. Among the investments contemplated, those aimed at boosting digitalisation are imperative given the productivity gains associated with digital transformation.

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