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THE SOCIAL ELEVATOR IN SPAIN


By social elevator we understand the possibilities of a person who comes from a determined social and/or economic stratum to ascend (or descend) from stratum. That is, to improve or worsen his life, economically, according to his merits and not according to his inheritance.


In a “healthy” society, the social elevator works. Obviously, it continues to be an important advantage to come from a well-positioned family, and no matter how “healthy” society is, it continues to be a very important disadvantage to come from a family with few resources.

It is the state that has to provide the means so that those with talent can, regardless of the means of their family, prosper socially and economically. These means consist mainly of a quality education system accessible to all and social aid to help those families who need it.


The scope of the social assistance that the state must provide is debatable. It is not our intention to enter into this matter. Nor in how they should be articulated. But, on the other hand, we consider a certain tendency that has been installed in the politics of certain political parties, consisting of increasing public spending and state collection without restraint, to be very dangerous. It must be taken into account that at this time, the public administrations as a whole already spend more than 50% of the country's GDP; and this proportion, reasonable in a situation like the one we are experiencing with COVID, is not very reasonable in a normalized economic context.


There are measures that are not, from any point of view, reasonable. Pretending that a developer allocate 30% of the homes built to social housing is an "invisible tax" that increases the price of the remaining homes, since the developer must concentrate most of the costs and benefits on these homes of the operation. In addition, in many cases it discourages construction - no developer in his right mind will build housing in a middle or upper class neighborhood if 30% must go to social housing, since he will have many problems selling the remaining 70%. The ultimate result is a drop in housing construction, which decreases the supply and, therefore, increases the price of housing. It is paradoxical that a law intended to universalize access to housing becomes a law that stimulates the increase in housing prices by strangling the supply of new homes.


I mention this aspect -housing- because access to decent housing is an important part of the so-called “social elevator”. It is not about stigmatizing wealth redistribution policies; it is about asking that these policies be reasonable, sensible and, above all, effective. And the problem we have is that certain parties seem installed in a kind of tombola of electoral promises, each more incredible, with little economic sense, but very attractive electorally. They continue to increase our debt, which one day will have to be paid. And, surely, in difficult circumstances, as happened to Greece.


As long as our parties continue in this vein, it will be difficult to avoid this scenario.


The H&B team.


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