Housing starts: a comparison of spain and the UK

Spain has a population of 43.5 million people, compared to 60 million in the UK, so the UK’s population is 38% bigger. Spanish GDP per capita in 2005 (PPP) was $26,840, compared to $32,548 in the UK, so British GDP per capita is 21% higher than Spain’s. However, for the last 5 years, Spain has been building more than 3 times as many properties per year as the UK, despite having a smaller population, a smaller economy, one of the highest levels of properties per capita in the EU, and the highest ratio of empty properties in the EU. It makes one wonder why Spain is building so many new properties. Having said that it should also be pointed out that not enough properties are being built in the UK to satisfy demand.

spanish housing starts

Housing starts in figures: Spain vs UK

YEARSPAINUK
1990299,488167,244
1991274,136172,786
1992280,643170,639
1993252,787195,237
1994315,690205,442
1995347,727174,828
1996322,073194,390
1997399,007198,089
1998460,527187,467
1999563,682191,956
2000585,933185,797
2001547,883195,519
2002617,126195,569
2003681,178212,332
2004761,790225,783
2005812,294235,360
2006920,199

UK source: Department for Communities and Local Government
Spain source: Consejo superior de los colegios de arquitectos de España

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About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based property market analyst and consultant, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008). He can be reached by email on ms@spanishpropertyinsight.com.