Foreigners' internal migration patterns in Spain: recent spatial changes under the economic crisis

Isabel Pujadas, Universitat de Barcelona
Jordi Bayona-i-Carrasco, Universitat de Barcelona
Fernando Gil-Alonso, Universitat de Barcelona

The profound present Spanish economic crisis ended an intense foreign migration flow phase. Nowadays, international migrations have changed direction and therefore, in Spain, exit flows would currently be larger than entry ones. In the same way, the magnitude of the present crisis obliges us to revise our knowledge on internal flows, especially if we intend to focus on foreign population, as it has particularly been hit by the country’s extremely high unemployment rates. This paper aims to give a recent picture of foreigners’ internal mobility in Spain. Our main hypothesis is that the economic crisis has changed previous trends, as the number of residential changes should have probably been reduced and, at the same time, foreign migrant sender and receiving provinces should have changed. Indeed, while new flows to new labour markets –i.e. those regions less touched by recession– can appear, mobility can also be reduced, as labour and housing markets become less dynamic. Preliminary results show that the economic crisis has had three main effects on foreigners’ migratory patterns in Spain. Firstly, entries have diminished and exits have augmented. Secondly, their internal mobility has changed, as foreigners are currently moving from those provinces which are most affected by rapid unemployment growth to those which had lower non Spanish population percentages. While in 2007 Mediterranean provinces were net migrant receivers, in 2011 they were those which expelled more migrants. At the other end of the scale, in 2011, the most attractive provinces are those which previously had fewer foreigners, that is to say, Northern Spain ones (such as those of Galicia and the Basque Country) or interior ones. Finally, foreigners’ internal flows have decreased and, as a consequence, there is a certain residential stability in comparison to pre-crisis times.

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Presented in Session 30: Internal migration of immigrants