spain and sweden






Countries have always been recognized as different and similar in various ways. These differences and similarities are dependent on the social cultural environment, the economics of the countries, as well as the governance and politics of the country. Obviously, these differences and similarities or rather the features have a bearing on the development and long-term stability of the countries. Two countries that have been touted as quite similar (and different) in various aspects are Sweden and Spain. The similarities of these two countries may be pegged on the fact that both of them are under the auspices of the European Union.

Spain has been known to yield to other countries on various aspects. For example, in 16th and 17th centuries, Spain yielded command for the seas to its neighbor, England. The country also failed to embrace industrial and mercantile revolutions, something that pushed it behind other countries such as Germany, France and Britain as far as political and economic power is concerned ( HYPERLINK “” Spain, in addition, remained neutral during the two World Wars, but experienced a devastating civil war between 1936 and 1939. Nevertheless, the country had a peaceful transition to democracy in 1975 after the death of Francisco Franco, something that launched the country to a rapid economic modernization. The country joined the European Union in 1986, which further gave the country a dynamic and fast growing economy and translated it into a global champion of human rights and freedom. Currently, the key focus of the government is on measures that would be effective in reversing the devastating economic recession that kicked-in in 2008.

Sweden shares some similarity as far as its past is concerned. For example, Sweden was neutral in the two World Wars. However, it has not taken part in any war for a period close to or almost two centuries. This may explain the long, successful economic popular that it enjoys. The formula combines considerable welfare elements with a capitalist system. This system, however, underwent some challenges in 1990s from high rates of unemployment, as well as 2000 to 2002 and 2009 from the global economic downturns ( HYPERLINK “” Nevertheless, the fiscal discipline that the country has exercised in the past number of years has enhanced capacity to weather the economic vagaries. Sweden became a member of the European Union in 1995. However, the public, in a 2003 referendum, rejected to have the euro introduced in their currency.

Comparison of Spain and Sweden on the economic front

The mixed capitalist economy of Spain is ranked as the 13th largest in the globe with a GDP per capita of $32,630, which is close to that of other countries such as France and Germany. However, this is quite low from that of Sweden which has $40,393 GDP per capita.

Sweden has been aided by neutrality and peace that it has enjoyed for the entire 20th century, and achieved a significantly high living standard under the blended system of extensive welfare benefits and high-tech capitalism ( HYPERLINK “” Sweden incorporates a modern system of distribution, excellent external and internal communications, as well as a labor force that is highly skilled.

According to the CIA world Factbook, the above average GDP growth that Spain enjoyed started slowing down in 2007 and early 2008 got into a recession. Its GDP was reduced by around 3.7% in 2007 and even further by 0.1% in 2010 ( HYPERLINK “” Nevertheless, the country became the first key economy to recover from the recession as it turned positive in 2011. This reversal was a reflection of a considerable reduction in decline amidst a falling consumer spending and an oversupply of housing, as well as a growth in exports. Nevertheless, the efforts of the government to boost its economy via extended unemployment benefits, loan guarantees and stimulus spending have been ineffective in averting a rise in the rate of employment from about 8% about 20% by 2011 ( HYPERLINK “” Currently, the rate of unemployment is close to 25% with young people as the key victims as their rates of unemployment stands at more than 50 percent. Experts have partly blamed the high rate of unemployment on the bursting of the housing bubble. The Spanish government, however, has undertaken various reforms that would assist the financial system and economy. It seeks to balance the need to boost or push economic growth, and cut back on the deficit by ensuring that the measures that have been placed for reducing the fiscal deficit are growth friendly. In addition, it aims at implementing reforms that would enhance the competitiveness of the economy and propel growth. It also aims at enhancing the financial system to ensure healthy lending ( HYPERLINK “”

Sweden, on the other hand, has had its record largely founded on strong policy frameworks in line with the buoyant global economy. Its public finances have been touted as among the strongest in the entire Europe. The country’s debt in 2011 was estimated at about 37 percent of its GDP ( HYPERLINK “” The strong economic structures have placed the country on the path of economic growth and development. This is especially considering that the country has enjoyed considerable peace for close to two centuries, and played neutral on various issues. These aspects have placed the country on a high pedestal as far as investment is concerned, thereby launching it for economic growth and development. Its financial sector is considerably complex, concentrated and enormous. It depends on short-term, wholesale funding. The incredible growth that it experiences has leveraged the negative effects of having not introduced the euro in its system.

Socio-cultural environment of Spain and Sweden

Sweden and Spain differ on some key aspects pertaining to their social cultural environments. These things, undoubtedly, have a bearing on the development of the country on other aspects especially economic growth. Sweden, nevertheless, fairs way better than Spain as far as its society is concerned.

First, it is worth noting that while its citizens use Swedish language, an enormous percentage of its population is also conversant with English and speaks it fluently. This is quite different from Spain where its citizens use Castilian Spanish as their official language, but also incorporate other languages such as Basque, Galician and Catalan (John and Makhija, 45). As much as the diversity of languages is always appreciated in Sweden, it goes without saying that it comes as an impediment to growth and development. This is especially considering that there would be language barriers for investors, which limit communication thereby hindering growth. In any case, English is an international language in which case it would be helpful for individuals who do not understand Swedish language. This is unlike in Spain, where one has to understand Castilian Spanish or the other local languages, something that terribly impedes communication (John and Makhija, 45).

In addition, Sweden enjoys multiplicity of religions with its citizens being Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox, Baptist, Roman Catholic and Lutheran. This is quite different from Spain, where citizens mainly subscribe to Roman Catholic religion. As much as the country has enjoyed considerable peace and has maintained neutrality especially during the two world wars, it goes without saying that the presence or rather dominance of one religion could be taken as a form of religious intolerance, something that would have a negative effect on its reputation.

In addition, the government of Sweden is a constitutional monarchy where a monarch functions as the head of state. His operations have to be guided by the constitution of the country. This category of government is different from absolute monarchy where the monarch is the source of power in the nation and would not be legally bound by the constitution. He, in such a case, would be having powers to control and regulate his government, something that would be tantamount to dictatorship. Spain, on the other hand, operates under a parliamentary monarchy, in which case there is a monarch as the head of state and the prime minister as who is officially known as the head of government. The monarch is just a ceremonial figure while the prime minister is responsible for the daily operations or running of the government. However, research has shown that the fragmentation of power, especially executive power, is likely to lead to slower processes of decision making, which may, therefore, slow down the economy and development in general. This is what makes constitutional monarchy a better option that parliamentary monarchies as decisions are made in a faster manner within the precincts of the law.

Nevertheless, Sweden is composed of Swedes with Sami and Finnish minorities’ first-generation and foreign born immigrants such as Norwegians, Turks, Danes, Yugoslavs and Finns. This is quite different from Spain which has ethnic groups that are a composite of Nordic and Mediterranean types. The multiplicity of communities for both countries provides an element of rich cultural diversity (Malin, 34). This may be the main reason why the two countries have enjoyed relative peace and tranquility in its political system and governance.

In conclusion, the differences that countries enjoy in their cultural, political and economic policies are reflected in their capacity to develop. Spain and Sweden, despite belonging to the European Union incorporate some similarities and differences in their economic, political and social fronts that differentiate them and their developments. Both countries have a history of enjoying tranquility and peace, as well as playing neutral especially during the two world wars. Nevertheless, Spain has been hit harder by the global economic recession than Sweden. As much as Sweden was hit just as hard, it incorporated sound economic policies that combined a welfare system with capitalist systems (Malin, 56). These played a key role in enhancing stability of its economy and, therefore, made the country a rich and admirable investment hub. In addition, Spain has multiple languages, most of which are not exactly international. Sweden, on the other hand, incorporates Swedish language and English, which, therefore, comes in handy especially considering that English is an international language. Looking at the religions that are in Spain, it is easy to conclude that there is religious intolerance, which is not necessarily the case. In essence, most of the features of Spain stall its development.

Works cited

Mallin, Chris A. Handbook on International Corporate Governance: Country Analyses. New York: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011. Print

John, Kose and Makhija, Anil K. International Corporate Governance. New York: Emerald Group Publishing, 2011. Print

CIA World Factbook. Spain. Web retrieved from HYPERLINK “”

CIA World Factbook. Sweden. Web 2012 retrieved from HYPERLINK “”

IMF. Spain Needs to Deliver on Reforms to Stabilize Economy. Web retrieved from HYPERLINK “”

IMF. Cloudy Outlook for Sweden After Years of Success. HYPERLINK “”

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