Moving to Basque Country: Everything You Need to Know 

03/08/2021

Have you ever thought about packing up and starting again somewhere new? The world is a big place with so much to see and do. If you were going to move, what factors would influence your decision? Would safety, life expectancy, equality, and purchasing power be a driving force? We think so, and here's what we found. Life in Basque Country, by the numbers.

Standard of Living

Standard of living can be hard to measure. What we do know is that there is at least some correlation between quality of life and standard of living. It is generally accepted that places with a higher standard of living have a better quality of life. It is hard to have a high quality of life when one's standard of living is near or below the poverty line.

There are a few different metrics that are commonly used to measure standard of living. The three most common are HDI (Human Development Index), GINI Coefficient, and the PPP (Purchasing Power Parity). Let's take a quick overview of how Basque Country compares to the other nations of the world. 

Human Development Index

HDI is a measurement used to determine the standard of living. The evaluation consists of measuring health (specifically life expectancy), safety, and education. When the calculation is complete a HDI valuation is assigned between 0-1. In this index you want the higher number.

Health

Basque Country has the best healthcare and health services of the 17 Autonomous Communities of Spain. Navarre is a close second. The health service expenditure per capita was also topped by Basque Country and Navarre.

Basque Country does operate a universal healthcare system that is ranked as one of the best in Europe. It also allows for private healthcare insurance if you would like. This allows for a variety of medical choices that can be tailored for a family's needs.

The life expectancy in Basque Country is 83 years old, a full three years above the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) average. For comparison the UK (United Kingdom) life expectancy is 81, Canada's is 82, while the USA is 79.

Safety

When it comes to finding a place to call home, safety is always on the top of the list. No one wants to live in an area where crime is prevalent and one's well being is in jeopardy. Living in Basque Country is one of the safest places to live in the world.

Basque Country is in the top 10% safest places according to the OECD. Basque Country received a 10/10 in safety ranking and has a homicide rate of 0.3 per 100,000. To put that into context, only Japan and Singapore record a lower rate. According to World Population Review, this incredibly low rate of homicides is more than half the national average of Spain. It is also vastly superior to the UK with a rate of 1.2, United States at 3.7, and Canada at 1.68 per 100,000. 

Education

The education ranking in Basque Country performs a little below average across OECD member nations with a score of 6.6/10. This is the one area of Basque society that needs some improvement. Interestingly, Basque Country has the best education rankings in Spain. Navarre is ranked second in education. This disparity between national and international education rankings does raise some interesting questions about Spain's education system as a whole.

It is also worth noting that the Basque region of France is in the province of Nouvelle-Aquitaine and has an education score of 8/10. They do, however, rank lower in safety at 9/10 and are about equal in life expectancy.

The HDI score for Basque Country is 0.937 and sits at 12 globally. For context, Spain sits at 25 with a score of 0.904. The UK is at 0.932, USA at 0.926, and Canada comes in at 0.929. Overall, Basque Country ranks in the top 10% of countries to live in from an HDI perspective.

Gini Coefficient

The Gini coefficient is a model used to measure the distribution of income across a population. It is named after the statistician who created the formula. Like HDI it is measured on a scale from 0-1. In the case of the Gini coefficient zero represents perfect equality while one measures perfect inequality.

Example: There are five people in a room and there is $10. A Gini score of zero would mean each person gets $2. Now, if it was the same situation of five people in a room with $10 and one person got all $10, that would score a Gini score of 1. Obviously, all societies are somewhere between the score of zero and one. 

It is also important to keep in mind that this is not a measurement of wealth, just equality. It is possible for two societies with very different standards of living to have a similar Gini score. This is because it is measuring how much wealth is being spread around, and not wealth itself. That being said, it is generally accepted that in countries with a high HDI score, a lower Gini score is ideal. This means more wealth is spread out more evenly and likely leads to a higher standard of living for the society at whole.

Basque Country's Gini is lower than the EU which means that there is less inequality. The Gini for the region is 0.267. The European Union comes in at 0.307 while Spain's is 0.347. The UK scored 0.35, the USA a 0.434, and Canada 0.333. 

The Gini coefficient that Basque Country has means that the wealth is spread around more evenly than some other nations. It also means that those who are from a lower economic starting point are less likely to fall into poverty than nations that are prone to high income inequality. Essentially, the poor are a lot less poor and aren't being left behind by society. This can lead to a healthier and safer society, which can be seen in the Basque Country HDI.

Purchasing Power Parity

PPP measures how far a currency goes in one place versus another. It takes into account GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita and then measures the cost of living.

For example: If there are two people, person A is from one country and Person B is from another country and makes $10. The cost of housing for person A is $13 and food costs $6. Person A is left with $1. Person B spends $5 on housing and $3 on food is left with $2. In this case PPP would favour person B. Person B makes less money but because his costs are so much less his PPP is actually more favourable. 

This is helpful because salaries vary from place to place as do housing costs, utilities, etc. It is used to measure the health of an economy. Generally speaking, the healthier the economy the further your money will take you. 

Basque Country has a very favourable PPP compared to many other European countries. Basque PPP was 21 points above the EU average. Of the 28 EU countries Basque Country was ranked 8, just behind Sweden. PPP was advantageous in Basque Country compared to notable countries like the UK, France and Italy.

Like any analytic, there are flaws to such measurements that cannot paint a full picture of what life is like for each person. However, it is important to note that the lower a GINI coefficient a country has, the more accurate the GDP per capita.

Since GDP per capita is measured by dividing GDP by the population. If a country has a high rate of inequality GDP per capita can be skewed. However, with Basque Country having a low GINI coefficient, it is logical to think that PPP is more accurate than in some other cases.

Socially and economically, Basque Country has many things going for it. The rate of inequality is relatively low, the currency goes far, and it's a safe place to live a long and healthy life. In many key metrics Basque Country ranks either top 10 in Europe or globally. When it comes to having a high quality of life, there aren't many places better. If you're dreaming of a new place to call home, don't sleep on Basque Country.

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