Spain vs Poland economy [GDP, Living standards, Economic indicators].

When comparing economies, it is worth looking at a few key indicators. In terms of GDP, Spain’s economy is slightly larger than Poland’s. In 2020, Spain’s nominal gross domestic product was US$1041 billion compared to US$512 billion for Poland. However, when adjusted for the relative size of the population between each country, Poland has a much higher GDP per capita; in 2015, the figure was US$24,672 in Poland and only US$21,735 in Spain. This likely reflects differences in economic productivity and indicates that Poles are able to produce more wealth with fewer total resources available to them than Spaniards do on average.

GDP in nominal terms of Poland and Spain – as you can see the Spanish economy is more than double that of Poland, source:
Level of economic growth (% GDP growth) of Spain and Poland, source:

Polish and Spanish economies ahead of the pandemic

When comparing Spain’s economy with Poland’s, many people look at Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a reflection of economic comparison. Although Spain’s GDP per capita is more than double that of Poland ($32,527 in 2018 for Spain vs. $13,603 for Poland), this does not tell the full story.

Overall, looking at indicators of living standards, such as the unemployment rate and wage growth, it is clear that both countries have seen significant improvements since 2000. In addition, both also have similar investments in public infrastructure, as well as low inflationary pressures, which has allowed their economies to grow steadily over time (especially in the years leading up to 2020).

In terms of job creation and economic incentive policies, both countries have recently made significant efforts – the Spanish government has introduced reform packages to increase employment and modernise the labour market, while Poland has recently introduced a series of tax breaks for companies investing in new technologies. These measures have undoubtedly contributed to GDP growth in both countries, but have also resulted in improved earnings for workers across all sectors.

It may be true that, at first glance, there are discrepancies between the two European countries when it comes to ‘wealth’ criteria such as GDP per capita; however, if you dig deeper into their economic strategies, they mirror each other quite closely – creating conditions that are conducive to sustainable development and improving quality of life indicators such as wages and unemployment rates over the last 20 years or so!

There is a percentage decline in the contribution of industry to Spain’s GDP, with a high rate of tourism, source:

Living standards in Poland and Spain

A well-known measure that defines well-being is the SEDA. SEDA defines well-being based on ten dimensions grouped into three categories:

  • Economics. Includes dimensions of income, economic stability and employment.
  • Investment. Includes education, health and infrastructure dimensions, which reflect the outcomes of policies and programmes that account for the majority of non-defence government spending.
  • Sustainable development. Includes the environment and the three drivers of social inclusion: equality, strong civil society and good governance.

The table below presents data for 2020 showing a comparison of all economies in the world assessing them with SEPA standards.

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Poland received 69.5 points in 2020 against an average of 48.6 points globally.

Spain had a slightly higher index, at 71.7 – a slightly higher level than Poland, but also similar.

The economies of Poland and Spain after the pandemic

It has to be acknowledged that Spain, as one of the best performing countries in the European Union, is effectively fighting inflation.

In Spain, inflation falls to 2021 figures. In March, the consumer price index (CPI) fell to 3.3 per cent, more than 2.5 percentage points below the figure registered in February. This is the largest monthly decline in 45 years, reports the National Statistical Institute (INE). Core inflation, meanwhile, decreased by 0.1 point to 7.5 per cent.

Inflation in March 2023 in Poland instead stood at 16.1 per cent. – GUS reported. This means that the rate of price increases has slowed down compared to the record-breaking February. Earlier, however, even a reading below 16 per cent was expected, i.e. fears were confirmed that inflation was not falling so fast and that it was much higher than in Spain.

On the other hand, Spain is getting more heavily in debt. Spain’s central bank (Banco de Espana) has announced that the country’s public debt has reached an unprecedented level of €1.52 trillion. Spain’s public debt increased by nearly €80 billion, or 5.4 per cent, between February 2022 and February 2023.

Spain sees rising debt levels, source:

Looking abroad, there is another area where these countries differ significantly – their relations with other European nations. Although both countries are members of the European Union (EU), they have taken different paths towards international cooperation and integration in recent years: according to a recent Eurostat survey, 80 per cent of Poles have a positive view of EU membership compared to 59 per cent of Spaniards; this means that Polish citizens feel more positively connected to their counterparts across Europe than Spanish citizens do – suggesting divergent attitudes towards European integration, and potentially indicating stronger feelings of nationalism among the Spanish population rather than unionism in Europe through EU membership in the first place.

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