The myth of low salaries in southern Europe



One of the main political and economic issues evoked by the majority of left-wing people in Europe, specially in southern countries, is that some governmental, budgetary or political choices, due to capitalist and neoliberal approaches, tend to make salaries low. Undoubtedly that wages in southern Europe are low, when compared to those in northern Europe, that is indeed merely a simple fact to assess. But the main political-economical question that immediately arises is, what is the cause for such low wages in Portugal, Spain or Greece. And the collected data from Eurostat doesn't seem to confirm any of the left-wing theories for low wages, such as the high inequality amongst workers, the labour governmental policies nor the standard on the minimum wage. Indeed, the data seems to simply attest, that there is a very strong correlation between the GDP per capita and the gross wages, that is, those incomes before taxes. Therefore, if you'd like to have your country to have higher wages, then you have to press your government to introduce policies to promote economic growth. Nonetheless, in the country where I come from, Portugal, the political debate is surreal and everyone talks about low wages, as if they were a misconduct from destiny or the evil intents of the greedy capitalist and financial system. Indeed there is inequality in wages in Portugal, and there is low labour protection in many new jobs for the youth, nevertheless rationality says the cause for low wages comes directly from economic performance, and not from legal or political measures. Good salaries are paid by good economies. Europe is no exception!

Salary vs GDP per capita in Europe (2007)
CountryAnnual Gross Income (EUR)Real GDP per capita (EUR)
Bulgaria2 699,74800
Denmark50 578,146200
Germany40 100,032100
Ireland40 932,040800
Spain22 176,524500
Cyprus23 662,924300
Hungary9 338,810400
Malta16 027,015500
Austria38 458,735900
Portugal17 201,617200
Romania5 044,26100
Slovakia8 031,311900
Finland34 738,037200
Sweden35 534,040400
United Kingdom43 675,431000
Source: EurostatReal GDP per capita: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-datasets/-/sdg_08_10
Earnings: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/labour-market/earnings/database

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