Monday, November 23, 2015

Changing Spain

Another single-subject post . . .

CHANGING SPAIN:

TheLocal notes that Spain has changed as follows in the 40 years since Franco's death:-

Women’s rights
During the Franco regime a married woman could not even apply for a passport or sign a contract without her husband’s permission. Today female university students outnumber male graduates and hold 40% of the seats in parliament. Women today account for 46% of the working population up from 30% in 1975.

Socially progressive
From the rigid and asphyxiating morality of the Franco regime and the stricture of the powerful Roman Catholic Church, Spain has become one of the world’s most socially progressive nations. In 2005 it became only the third country in Europe to legalise same-sex marriages.

Richer
Even taking into account the prolonged recession that ended in 2014 Spain has enjoyed an unprecedented period of prosperity. Economic output increased almost tenfold between 1975 and 2015 to around $1 trillion. Per capita income rose from US €2,800 ($3,000) to more than €28,000 ($30,000). Exports of goods and services more than trebled to 32% of GDP.

Fewer jobs
The main black point as regards the economy is the unemployment rate: up from a mere 5% in 1975 to a whopping 22% now.

And employment by sector has changed significantly since 1975. Just 4% of jobs today are in agriculture compared with 22% in 1975, 14% of employment is in industry and construction, down from 38%, while services employ 76%.

More tourism
Although the package holiday was invented in the 1960s under Franco, Spain's popularity as a tourist destination has gone from strength to strength. The number of tourists rose from 27 million the year Franco died to an estimated 68 million this year.

More cars
There were 123 cars per 1,000 people the year Franco died and more than 500 cars per 1,000 people today.

More people 
The population rose by 10.4 million to 46.4 million, mostly over a 10-year period as a result of an unprecedented influx of immigrants. In the decade before the 2008-13 crisis Spain received more immigrants proportional to its population than any other EU country.

Aging population
Close to 30% of the population was under the age of 15 in 1975; today it is 15%. Those over the age of 65 rose from 10% back then to more than 18% now

Smaller families
The average number of children per woman has more than halved to 1.3, one of the world’s lowest fertility rates.

Longer lives
Average life expectancy for men and women was 73.3 years in 1975; today it is 82 years. Spanish women now live to an average age of 85 years, almost the longest  lived in the world.

All this got me thinking about how things have improved, deteriorated or stayed much the same, at least in my provincial neck of the woods. This is what I came up with as a first stab. Additions/refutations welcome.

BETTER
  • Less Basque nationalism
  • Less ETA violence
  • Better road safety: Far fewer deaths on the roads, after intro of more testing
  • Some Benefits introduced or increased
  • New and improved roads and motorways (autopistas and autovias)
  • Ditto the trains
  • More high-speed tracks and trains
  • Driving generally
  • Variety of food in supermarkets, slight improvement
  • Number of 'academies' offering English classes
  • Internet access generally
  • Allegedly, some beneficial structural improvements in the economy

Pontevedra
  • The availability of spices.
  • Ginger in the fruit & veg shops
  • Shops selling loose spices
  • The pedestrianisation of the city centre
  • Motoring manners. Yes, honestly. All thanks to my example . . .
  • My internet service. Marginally.

WORSE
  • The economy
  • Higher unemployment: Now 22%, down from 26% but still awful. Even worse among the young at around 50%
  • Healthcare: Reduced levels of service. Longer delays, etc.
  • Higher inflation over the years than elsewhere in Europe
  • Lower real salary levels - Particularly among the young, the infamous mileuristas. €1,000/m for many years now
  • Reduced job security. Precariousness. Zero contracts.
  • The property market. Just recovering, perhaps, from a preposterous 15 years of boom and bust.
  • Taxes. Higher to pay for all the corruption, the banking scandals and mis-spending of governments of all stripes.
  • Levels of political and business corruption.
  • The number of expensive white elephant/vanity projects
  • TV. Still dreadful
  • Media freedom. Reduced under the quasi-Francoist PP party
  • More police 'tricks' to catch 'speeding' drivers. A revenue exercise

Pontevedra
  • Reduced parking
  • Far more bloody beggars
  • Fewer Asian restaurants. Only 'Chinese' now
  • The impossible one-way system in the city centre. Regular changes of direction
  • The devastated retail scene

NO PERCEPTIBLE CHANGE
  • Customer service. Still conspicuous by its absence. Possibly slightly better in some supermarkets. Some lip service elsewhere
  • The general attitude to time and to promptness. 
  • Noise levels. Still horrendous.
  • Street etiquette: There's still no respect for personal space
  • Bureaucracy
  • Levels of inefficiency
  • The amounts of paper reduced
  • The amoimt of photocopying necessary
  • The preference for face to face service
  • No real competition in the provision of utilities, despite the theory
  • The availability of foreign wines. Still as pathetic es ever.


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