The value of human capital lost in 2022 due to emigration amounts to 154.8 billion, 40% more than in 2019

MADRID, 22 Dic.

The value of human capital lost in 2022 due to emigration amounts to 154.8 billion, 40% more than in 2019


The value of human capital that Spain loses due to the effect of emigration exceeded 150,000 million euros in 2022, 40% more than before the arrival of the pandemic, in 2019, according to a study by the BBVA Foundation released this Friday.

The number of people who decide to leave Spain to seek job opportunities in other countries registered a new increase after the outbreak of Covid and in the first half of 2022 exceeded the numbers of emigrants by 11.7% for the same period of the previous year.

According to an estimate made in this study by projecting this data to the end of the year, the value of human capital lost in 2022 is estimated at 154.8 billion euros, 40% more than in 2019, and a figure that represents 0.93% of the value of Spain's total human capital in the year.

"Therefore, a loss of human capital is showing an increasing trend since the end of the pandemic, driven by the intensification of emigration abroad of the working-age population and its high level of training," the study indicates.

The report warns that this dynamic is "worrying" in terms of increasing social well-being in a context of progressive demographic aging and with a scenario in which accumulated declines in the value of human capital per capita are expected to be close to 20% until 2050. .

According to the study, the economic value of human capital would currently be around 14.8 trillion euros. That estimate represents only its ability to generate labor income and produce goods and services included in traditional measures of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Therefore, it does not take into account that human capital also provides individuals and societies with other types of advantages with a positive impact on well-being, thanks to its effect on health, political participation, social values ​​and the ability to enjoy cultural assets.

The report warns that the economic value of human capital in Spain is lower now than at the beginning of the century, with a cumulative drop of 3% in real terms.

"This evolution of human capital contrasts with the dynamics followed throughout the period 2000-2018 by other relevant magnitudes such as population, GDP, employment or the stock of physical capital, and points to possible difficulties in the future to continue promoting per capita income levels of Spaniards," the study warns.

To counteract this negative trend, linked to the increase in life expectancy and the "low" birth rate, the report is committed to introducing improvements in the labor market and in terms of productivity or changes in the population's retirement patterns.

In this sense, the study indicates that the current policy of progressively raising the retirement age to 67 years would allow per capita human capital to increase, "but in an amount insufficient by itself to maintain current levels and compensate for aging."

"The improvement would be more intense by delaying the legal retirement age to 70 years or through incentives with an equivalent impact on the effective retirement age, but it would not be sufficient either," he indicates.

In this context, it is requested to achieve progress in terms of the labor market and productivity of the economy, especially in this last area, "which is the only one that offers opportunities for continuous improvement, by not facing natural limits such as those that affect the reduction possible of the unemployment rate".

In the first case, structural changes are supported, given that the estimates of the long-term equilibrium unemployment rate available for the Spanish economy indicate that they are similar to the current ones.

"Achieving long-term equilibrium would therefore hardly affect per capita human capital. However, achieving the average long-term equilibrium unemployment rates of the euro area or the OECD would allow per capita human capital to improve by 8.5% and 11.3%, respectively," the report points out.

However, he considers that convergence would still have a greater impact in terms of productivity. Achieving the current average levels of compensation per employee in the EU would allow increases of 16.4%, and the magnitude of the improvement would be even greater if it converged with the current average of the euro zone or with the leading countries in this matter, the report maintains. .

"In short, the aging of the population in Spain represents a clear risk factor that, on the other hand, can be counteracted with measures that promote the delay of the retirement age, the reduction of structural unemployment rates and the increase of productivity," he concludes.