Social, economic and environmental effects

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The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. First wave: from the first cases to the end of June 2020

Monographs from the National Atlas of Spain.

Thematic structure


The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are difficult to specify, both on a global level and in terms of each country or state. Such effects may be either tangible or intangible; short-term or long-term; personal or communal; local, regional, national, European or international.

It would be impossible to measure precisely, at every level and in every field of activity, the impact caused by such a serious and unexpected phenomenon. The content of this part of the publication, which is based on maps, graphs and an explanatory text, must therefore be seen as an approximate description that analyses the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain as objectively as possible in certain fields that have been considered significant alongside the healthcare scope, and for which up-to-date quantitative data are available.

The narrative thread of the content follows a hypothetical path from the initial responses to the pandemic provided by the territorial authorities through to the effects bred on the environment. During the examination of the virus’s progression, the profound change in the mobility of people and goods is observed; the impact on macro-economic figures and sectors of production is examined; the transformations in labour and the structure of the labour market is assessed; the influence on the collection of revenue by the tax authorities is analysed; the major obstacles faced by the educational system as a result of lockdown are reported; and, finally, the institutional and social mobilisation that took place thanks to numerous solidarity campaigns is presented.

When focusing exclusively on the chapters referred to above, the risk however of misinterpreting the true force of what happened may be run. The plain fact is that a virus, despite its own microscopic physical dimensions, succeeded in halting the entire activity of the planet. Italo Calvino may well have been right when he declared that levity –in other words, what weighs little and is of diminutive stature– was destined to become one of the dominant features of the third millennium. This publication would seem to corroborate the writer’s declaration (even if the original comment was made in reference to literary creativity), leading us as it does to observe that something so minuscule has caused such unimaginable damage.

The enormous ordeal that we have all experienced arose from something extremely tiny and unleashed difficulties of completely unexpected dimensions: illness, death and social and economic crises. It may also yet result in a wholly desirable change of model with regard to our relationship with the environment, making it more equitable and sustainable. Be that as it may, humanity has shown, once again, its ability to react by obtaining the appropriate medical solutions that have enabled combating the pandemic within a very short period of time and returning with renewed energy to the task of social and economic recovery.


Co-authorship of the text in Spanish: José Sancho Comíns. See the list of members engaged

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You can download the complete publication The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. First wave: from the first cases to the end of June 2020 in Libros Digitales del ANE site.