Spanish miracle

Spanish miracle

The Spanish miracle ( _es. el milagro español) was the name given to a broadly based economic boom in Spain between 1959 and 1973. It ended with the oil shocks of the 1970s. The boom was bolstered by economic reforms promoted by the so-called technocrats, accepted by Francisco Franco, who put in place development policies from the International Monetary Fund. The technocrats were a new breed of politicians who replaced the old falangist guard.

The implementation of these policies took the form of development plans ( _es. Planes de desarrollo) and it was largely a success: Spain enjoyed the second highest growth rate in the world, slightly behind Japan, and became the ninth largest economy in the world, just after Canada. Spain joined the industrialized world, leaving behind the poverty and endemic underdevelopment it had experienced since the loss of the Spanish Empire at the beginning of the 19th century.

The recovery was heavily based on public investment in infrastructure development and the opening of Spain as a tourist destination. The Miracle ended the period of autarky (closed economy) and could be considered to be the response to the economic crisis of Spain after the Spanish Civil War and the challenges of World War II. The economic growth saw noticeable improvements in Spanish living standards and the development of a middle class in Spain, though Spain remained less economically advanced relative to the rest of Western Europe (with the exception of Portugal and Ireland). At the heyday of the Miracle, 1974, Spanish income per capita was 79% of the western European average, only to be reached again 25 years later, in 1999; while the economic indicator par excellence, the electricity production, went from 3.61 in 1940 to 90.82 millions of Megawatt-hours in 1976.

Spanish peseta coin with the image of Francisco Franco,"Caudillo de España, por la gracia de Dios"]

The Spanish miracle fed itself on a rural exodus and the new class of industrial workers this created, much similar to the French banlieue or, more recently, China's recent economic take off. The economic boom led to an increase in mostly fast and unplanned building on the periphery of the main Spanish cities to accommodate these new workers arriving from the countryside.

The expansion reinvigorated industries in the old industrial areas - Basque country and Ferrol northern coast (metallurgy, shipbuilding), in and around Barcelona (machinery, textiles) - and saw the emergence of the Madrid region as an important industrial and commercial zone.

The icon of the "Desarrollo" was the SEAT 600 car, produced by the Spanish SEAT under FIAT licence. More than 794,000 of them were made between 1957 and 1973, and if at the beginning of this period it was the first car for many Spanish working class families, at its end it was indeed the first "second" one for many more.

The automotive industry was really one of the most powerful "locomotives" of the Spanish Miracle: from 1958 to 1972 it grew at a yearly compound rate of 21.7%; in 1946 there were 72,000 private cars in Spain, in 1966 there were 1 million. [J.L. García Ruiz, "Barreiros Diesel y el desarrolo de la automoción en España" PDFlink|] These astonishing figures had no equal in the world.


See also

* German "Wirtschaftswunder" ("German economic miracle")
* Instituto Nacional de Industria
* Pegaso
* Spain under Franco

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