ECONOMY

Spaniards now wealthier than Italians (but only according to the IMF)

For the first time, stats show Spain has a higher GDP (PPP) per capita, but Eurostat data says otherwise

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

For the first time, Spain has overtaken Italy in terms of GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP), according to figures released on Thursday by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to this organization, in 2017 Spaniards’ GDP per capita was $38,286 (€31,111), compared with $38,140 (€30,994) for Italians.

This figure seems to underscore how both economies have been diverging in recent years. Spain has had three back-to-back years of growth above 3%, and has returned to pre-crisis levels. According to IMF forecasts, in 2018 Spain will overtake New Zealand to reach the 34th spot on a list headed by Qatar, Macao and Luxembourg.

Forecasts show that in 2018 Spain will overtake New Zealand

Meanwhile, Italy has yet to recover from the Great Recession. Almost eight years after the euro crisis began, Brussels is still asking Rome for reforms that have yet to happen.

However, the European Union’s own statistics bureau, Eurostat, shows a different picture of GDP per capita (both nominal and adjusted for PPP, which takes into account price differences in different countries).

By the Eurostat’s calculations, Spain’s GDP per capita in 2017 was €24,500 as opposed to €26,300 for Italy.

In late 2007, then-prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero announced that Spain had overtaken Italy for the first time, according to Eurostat figures. It was the height of the property bubble, which was about to burst. Spain’s GDP per capita statistics for that year were later reviewed and lowered.

English version by Susana Urra.

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