Barcelona Spain Adopts a Living Wage

Written by Ade Samuel and Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier on 03/17/2019

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Living Wage: N/A

Minimum Wage: €9960.40 per year (1)

Vibrant, zestful, and culturally diverse. In many ways Barcelona, Spain stands as a shining example of a thriving European City. At the same time, Barcelona is a city currently struggling to find its identity. A cry for independent status has consumed the city and the surrounding Catalan region in recent months, with Catalonia looking to redefine its relationship with Spain and place within Europe. This push has been met with resistance both from all sides. In the Spanish capital, Madrid, government officials have sought to quash clamors for independence from Catalan leaders. Meanwhile, many residents within the region find themselves unsure as to what is best for Barcelona and Catalonia as a whole moving forward (2).

Adding to the cacophony of questions concerning what’s next for Barcelona are murmurs of another query. Where does the prospect of a living wage fit into Barcelona’s future?
Researchers associated with the Àrea Meropolitana de Barcelona (AMB) have taken the first steps to answering this question by devising a method to calculate a basic cost of living for different household types within the Barcelona.

Their approach incorporates aspects of calculation methods employed by the Metropolitan Area of Greater London and Amy Glasmeier’s group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When developing this metric researchers first identified representative households of different compositions (single individual, married couple with children, single parent, etc.) and analyzed their spending habits in order to determine the different categories of spending (housing, transportation, food , etc.) that were most common across Barcelona.

They then established the goods and services necessary to provide a basic living standard within each of those spending categories. The costs of these requisite goods and services were collected from sources not affiliated with the AMB, and a monthly budget of basic necessities was created by summing all goods and services across all spending categories.

Finally, the summed costs in these budgets were divided by the number of potential wage earners in each household and this value was reported as the “salari de referècia” or SDR for a particular household type. The 2017 SDR for Catalonia’s total population was calculated as €1,319.17 per month, and shows an 8% increase from its value in 2016. Analyses of the collected data show that Catalonians spend the largest proportions of their income on housing and food.

Looking at the data through a developmental/demographic lens also shows that individuals need approximately €104 more per month to live in Barcelona relative to other parts of Catalonia when averaged across all household types. Further details of the group’s findings are presented in the report linked below (3).

Boisterous claims about what is best for Catalonia seem to have left people of the region fractured and disoriented at this point in time. A myriad of questions persist about the region’s geo-political future. However, further development of work like the SDR may play an important role in helping Catalonians find data driven answers and getting the people of Barcelona singing same tune once again.

1. https://www.shbarcelona.com/blog/en/salaries-in-barcelona/
2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/41483002
3. http://www.amb.cat/ca/web/desenvolupament-socioeconomic/estudis-socioeconomics/detall/-/estuditerritorial/salari-de-referencia-metropolita/6885912/11708?_EstudiTerritorialSearchListPortlet_WAR_AMBSearchPortletportlet_pageNum=2&_EstudiTerritorialSearchListPortlet_WAR_AMBSearchPortletportlet_detailBackURL=%2Fweb%2Fdesenvolupament-socioeconomic%2Festudis-socioeconomics