Spain’s Population Declining as More People Leave than Arrive

Even getting a job as a waiter can be difficult in Spain - copyright SubtlePanda, Creative Commons license


Up until a few of years ago, Spain was one of the most popular countries in the world for immigrants. For such a small country population-wise (around 46.1 million inhabitants), it’s immigration figures were enormous, with almost one million immigrants arriving in Spain every year. In 2011, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE), Spain has lost around 27,771 residents so far, with more people now leaving than arriving.

Spain’s declining population, of course, is due to its devastated economy. When over 21% of Spain’s population is unemployed, it does not make sense to many immigrants to try to carve out a life for themselves in Spain. Getting a job is now just too difficult.

Young Spaniards too are leaving the country in search of jobs elsewhere. After all, let’s face it, when unemployment for the age group of 16 to 29 is 35%, many fear they’ll never get a decent start in life if they remain in Spain.

Spain is also losing foreign retirees, some of whom arrived in the country a few years ago on shoestring budgets. Now with the amount an average pension can buy in Spain declining, pensioners from countries like the UK, Germany, Sweden and Norway worry they won’t be able to maintain even a bare-minimums lifestyle. So back home they go.

However, if someone who wants to emigrate to Spain is willing to work hard, take jobs that may not be perfect but are adequate for now, learn Spanish and integrate into Spanish city — in other words, adapt — being an immigrant in Spain may be more difficult than before, but it’s still possible to create a good life.

For more on Spain’s declining population, read the latest story in El Pais.