I try to focus on cities, but last post I talked about Norway, and today I will talk about Spain. I also think that national policies can teach us lessons about local economic development.

A few weeks ago Richard Florida informed me (and to his 60,000 followers in Twitter :), that Newsweek came out with a new ranking for countries. Newsweek it’s the type of outlet that when I’m living for a few months in the US I feel they’re in the left, and that once I live in Europe a few months, I consider them as a conservative piece of work. Anyways, I always like to take a look at these rankings. I think they made a good job overall. I always like to see how the countries that interest me, the US, Denmark, Bolivia, Ecuador and my native Spain score. There was something that striked me about Spain. I mean, I knew it, but it seemed so clear.

Why the education system in Spain sucks and the healthcare system is so good?

Both, are mostly public, with some private activity though. Both, had the same governments, and similar policy makers, similar history, similar environment, similar population (now 45 million), similar civil servants, similar everything! But why they’re so different??.

The healthcare system in Spain, of course it’s not perfect, but citizens overall are proud of it. That is, universal healthcare, including the 5 million immigrants in the last decade, no waiting lists longer than any other country (or different waiting time than in the US – I tell you this if you’re American), and good quality for all. Great doctors by the way. Also many other countries try to learn from us.

In the other hand, the education system after the golden Spanish era, a few centuries ago, it has been quite bad compared to the rest of advanced countries. 20 years ago it seemed it was taking off, but again is doing really bad. In primary, secondary and university level.

One day I will find out why both systems have such a different results. If you have any idea, please share. I think this gives an important lesson on economic development and policy, even on similar circumstances a mostly public field (there are competing private schools and health care provides but they are the minority) can thrive while other fail, when compared to the rest of the world.

p.s. Here is this ranking, and this opinion to complement the one of Newsweek, which point out Spain’s healthcare top position. I will not post about Spain’s position in education, but you can trust me on this one.