Spain: Steps Towards Partnership and Marketization

  • Sebastián Sarasa
  • Guida Obrador
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS)


Evaluating institutional reforms in the Spanish social services is not easy. Political decentralization and the paucity of homogeneous systematic data about what and how organizations are doing, makes it difficult to get information about the nascent reforms that were implemented in the 1990s. We have chosen one Comunidad Autónoma—Catalonia—because of the availability of data. Nevertheless, a general overview of Spanish social services and the role of the third sector in it, is offered for a better understanding of the institutional and social background.


European Union Civil Society Social Service Public Authority Public Administration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    For a description of the characteristics of the Welfare State in Spain, see Moreno and Sarasa (1993) and Rodriguez Cabrero (1993).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This Ministry was eliminated when the new conservative government won the elections in 1996. Its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Rodriguez Cabrero (1990) for public services and Rodriguez Cabrero and Montserrat (1996) for the third sector.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rodriguez Cabrero and Montserrat (1996) estimate that, apart from the biggest organiztions, the most of voluntary organizations derive 67 per cent of their resources from public transfers. Aguiar and Pérez-Yruela (1995) estimate that 50 per cent of voluntary organizations in Andalusia got nearly 60 per cent of their resources from the Andalusian Welfare Department in 1992.Google Scholar
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    For an analysis of this nation-wide organization for the blind, see the work of Garvfa (1992).Google Scholar
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    It should be noted that the participation of the third sector in the programmes of social—occupational integration for long-term unemployed people is included in the autonomous government’s policy to delegate to private agencies the matter of occupational training financed through EU cohesion funds.Google Scholar
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    On the profile of the users of the Minimum Income Programme in Catalonia and Spain in general, see: Generalitat de Catalunya Conclusions from the Evaluation of the Interdepartamental Programme of Minimum Income Entitlement. Barcelona, 1994 and Aguilar et al. (1995).Google Scholar
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    The calculation has been made using the Catalan Institute of Social Services budget published by Crespo and Rimbau (1998, p. 741).Google Scholar
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    Calculated on the expenditure on services made by the Social Welfare Department that absorbed the Catalan Institute of Social Services previously integrated in the Department of Health. The budget, excluding pensions, grew from 257.5 to 308.5 million ECUs (Crespo and Rimbau, 1998, p. 741).Google Scholar
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    From 1975 to 1985 the amount of employed people constantly decreased. The trend was interrupted during the second half of the 1980s but in 1991 a new period of employment reduction began again (Toharia, 1994, pp. 1279–1286).Google Scholar
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    Some managers of big voluntary organizations interviewed, stated that there was, in fact, a cut in public subsidies that obliged small organizations, to ask the bigger organizations for financial help.Google Scholar
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    Douglas (1987) has summarized these arguments.Google Scholar
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    For an introduction to this debate, see Anheier and Seibel (1990) and Perry 6 (1993).Google Scholar
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    This hypothesis is partially accepted by some economists but not in such a radical formulation. Arrow (1975), recognizes that in the case of some goods, their quality is not easily evaluated by consumers who may prefer non-profit providers to avoid being exploited. But that does not mean markets corrode altruism and social order as Titmuss wrote.Google Scholar
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    It should be stressed that dissatisfaction with subsidies and interest in alternative methods of financing are lower in those organizations essentially dedicated to the representation of specific interests, as is the case of the Elderly People’s Associations. The more specialized the organization is in a given type of service and the more dependent it is on public resources, the greater is its interest in financial stability and market procedures. In the interviews, it was found that third sector organizations with financial autonomy and a firm ideological commitment and solid values are not eager to accept the market logic. Such reticence also emerged at organizations which, due to their limited financial resources, cannot afford to pay professionals and rely almost entirely on voluntary work. These organizations do not consider themselves capable of competing with profit-making enterprises.Google Scholar
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    One such case is that of Amics de la Gent Gran (Friends of the Elderly), a volunteer association helping the most fragile of the elderly. Of the eight people under contract working in the association, two of them deal with selecting, training and supporting some 600 highly motivated volunteers who, according to the association’s managers, work almost like professionals.Google Scholar
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    This statement contradicts the complaints of some organizations which declare that the costs of services provision are higher than the funds they receive from the public authorities. This could mean that the situation must vary depending on the type of service involved and the varying degree of management efficiency within the TSOs themselves.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastián Sarasa
    • 1
  • Guida Obrador
    • 2
  1. 1.Dpt. Ciencies Politiques I SocialsUniversitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.CRID-Diputació de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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