Spanish Population Increased in 2011: Number of Foreigners Down

Protest signs read 'Without a house, without a job, without pension' -- with Europe's highest unemployment figures, Spain can't afford to take many more immigrants who are also looking for work at the current time.


While many in Spain have been worrying that, due to the terrible economy, the county is going to see a mass exodus of its citizens to other countries so they can find work, so far that may not be the case. In fact, in 2011, the population of Spain increased slightly and the increase was due to Spaniards and not to foreigners moving to Spain.

New figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE) show that the number of Spaniards in Spain grew by 62,944 in 2011, which is actually quite stable growth in a country with only 47,212,990 people.

On the other hand, the number of foreigners living in the country went down from 40,447 to 5,711,040 people. The largest percentage of foreigners living in Spain were Romanians with 895,970  living in the country (up 3.5% from 2010), and Moroccans with 783,137 people living in Spain (an increase of 1.2% from the previous year). That’s unfortunate for Spain, as many Romanians and Moroccans arrive in the country with little money and then are often give jobs Spaniards could do, and at salaries far lower than a Spaniard would be paid. Overall, this type of immigration is not particularly good for the country or the economy as it brings in a cheap workforce, who often then send their wages to their families back home, thus taking money away from Spaniards and from Spain.

Spain did implement a limit on Romanians migrating to Spain in August 2011, and that limit will last until 2014. Thirty percent of Romanians are currently unemployed in Spain, so allowing many more to migrate here wouldn’t help those Romanians already here or Spaniards in the job market.

The British, of course, also have a large number of their citizens living in Spain, with the total number of registered Brits in 2011 at British 397,535. Other EU countries also saw an increase of their citizens moving to Spain in 2011. While some of these people, of course, don’t bring a lot of money with them when they move and then do look for jobs, a substantial percentage are pensioners who bring income into Spain and don’t tend to work here, which is good for the Spanish economy.