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The BBVA Foundation and the Ivie present a detailed study on the performance of the public sector in the Spanish regions
Data show high regional differences in public spending

In Spain, differences among regions in their public sector size exceed those in neighboring countries. Disparities are so big, that the equality of access to basic public services across the autonomous communities is questioned. These inequalities have put some regions into debt. This is one of the messages included in the monograph Las diferencias regionales del sector público español, a research conducted by Francisco Pérez, professor at the University of Valencia and Ivie research director, together with Vicent Cucarella, Abel Fernández and Laura Hernández, all of them members of the Ivie. The study was presented on November 28 at the BBVA Foundation in Madrid, in an act attended by the BBVA Foundation director, Rafael Pardo and Francisco Pérez.

Is Spain's public sector too big? Is the deployment of public services homogeneous? What explains the differences in per capita spending? Are the most indebted regions irresponsible in their spending? Is there territorial solidarity? These are some of the questions answered by this study, which also provides new information, by regions, on the performance of the four Spanish public administration levels (central, regional, local and Social Security), both from the point of view of income and, especially, of expenses. The latter are classified by function (health, education, social protection, transport and communications, and other functions).

Regionalized information covers the period 2000-2008, when the transfer of public services to the autonomous regions was almost finished and before the start of the current economic crisis. Although the results do not cover the crisis years, they show that the regions are facing the adjustments from very different income and expenditure levels. The material prepared for the presentation offers the latest available update.

As part of this research, a new database has been developed that shows in detail the deployment of the Spanish public sector at regional level. Public managers, researchers and media can find interesting material in this new source of information.

Some of the conclusions of this study are as follows:

  • Spain's public spending is not greater than other similar countries, however, its deficit is not sustainable. Also, the weight of public-sector employment and output is similar to other neighboring economies.
  • Public presence among the Spanish territories is very unequal and differences in per capita spending are high.
  • The high diversion of per capita spending is influenced by the behavior of several administration levels.
  • There are significant differences in per capita spending on education and health. In addition, health spending has followed an expansionary path and has caused financial imbalances in the autonomous communities.
  • The decentralization process has been neither efficient nor fair: it has generated deficit and maintains the per capita differences in resources among the regions.
  • The most indebted regions are not spending more, they just have fewer resources.
  • Territorial solidarity exists, however, anomalies are found.
  • Some historical regions (Navarre and the Basque country) have their own special funding system.
Further information

Press release (in Spanish)
Presentation (in Spanish)
Book Google Books
Video (in Spanish)