2. Final outcomes
Table 1 summarises the position of the Basque Country with regard to final outcome indicators. As usual, the Basque Country maintains a very favourable position with regard to the GDP per capita indicator (for which the latest available figures are from 2016), improving in both value and ranking compared to the previous year.
The Basque Country is in a very favourable position with regards to the per capita GDP indicator
GDP measures what is produced within the territory, but this production is not always reflected in the population’s wellbeing for various reasons: generating this production may have involved non-resident factors of production (both workers and capital) which take part in the income generated (for example, residents of Cantabria who work in Bizkaia); in the interests of solidarity or for other reasons, some of the income may be transferred to other territories (to either other autonomous communities or developing countries); or the government and firms may appropriate part of the income to reduce their debt. For this reason, the OECD and Eurostat consider per capita household disposable income to be a much more suitable indicator for measuring the development of the population’s level of wellbeing. When disposable income is considered, the Basque Country’s position is clearly worse, especially compared to the reference regions, and the statistics do not provide information to identify which of the explanatory factors discussed earlier is most significant. Additionally, in contrast to the situation in Germany, the EU-28 and the reference regions, the increase in the Basque Country’s level of GDP per capita in recent years have not raised its per capita household disposable income (see Graph 1). This may be due to the fact that 2015 is the last year for which we have data on disposable income, and in the Basque Country and Spain, the economic recovery took place later than in the EU as a whole.
But the increase in GDP per capita in the Basque Country has not been reflected in the disposable income of households per capita
The level of long-term unemployment is another indicator in which the Basque Country has much more unemployment than Spain, but it has been trending positively in absolute terms in recent years (down from 6.5 to 5.5 percent from 2016 to 2017). However, it is still in a poor position in relative terms compared to Europe. As Graph 1, shows, this is due to the significant increase at the start of the crisis. Although it has made a recovery in absolute terms since 2015, it is still quite a bit higher than the average for the EU-28 and the reference regions, and even more than Germany.
Despite the positive evolution in recent years, the Basque Country still holds low positions in the long-term unemployment rankings
In contrast, in both absolute and relative terms, the NEET (percentage of young people aged 15–24 who are not in education, employment or training, which is included as a final outcome indicator because it is an indication of unemployment, probably undesired, among the youth population) and risk of poverty rates are very positive. The first, whose values have dropped in recent years, approaching those of Germany, demonstrates that young people are continuing to educate themselves in the event that they do not want to or cannot work. The second indicates that, despite what was mentioned above about disposable income, there is a transfer of resources to the most disadvantaged strata of the population, making it possible for the Basque Country to rank high among European regions in terms of lower poverty rates. This would seem to indicate that income is distributed in a more uniform fashion with less inequality, as confirmed by the indicators shown in Table 2, where we can see that the Basque Country has better values in terms of the Gini coefficient (which measures inequality on a scale from 0, perfect equality, to 100, maximum inequality), the S80/S20 index (which measures the ratio between the 20% of people with the highest equivalent per capita income in the income distribution and the 20% of people with the lowest income), and the percentage of total income received by the 10% poorest among the population.
The Basque Country has lower rates of risk of poverty and inequality than other territories, and a better perception of the rate of satisfaction with life
Lastly, as regards the subjective level of wellbeing, the life satisfaction rate values estimated by the European Social Survey indicate that improvements observed in the objective final outcome indicators are also being perceived as a subjective improvement in quality of life. Thus, in Graph 2 we see, for example, that the life satisfaction rate inversely correlates with the level of long-term unemployment. This is even more marked in the reference regions than in the European regions as a whole. In the case of the Basque Country, satisfaction levels are above what would correspond to the level of long-term unemployment.
In general, the final results of the Basque Country have improved significantly
It can therefore be concluded that the final outcomes have improved significantly. Social indicators indicate that the needs of the most disadvantaged strata are being met, with lower poverty and inequality rates than in other territories, as well as a high positive perception as regards life satisfaction rates. Although in terms of disposable income, the results are worse than in other regions, this is something which may have improved in more recent years and should be monitored, as it is a more suitable measure of household wellbeing than GDP per capita. The most problematic indicator is long-term unemployment, as despite the reduction achieved, the Basque Country still ranks comparatively low in Europe, and especially when compared with the reference regions.