Almost half Spain’s provinces have experienced depopulation since 1950. They may share a common past, but the solution is not the same for every province. Three trends are becoming apparent for these 23 Spanish provinces.
“España despoblada” or “España vacia” are terms that have been known in Spain for decades. Since 1950, there have been 23 provinces in Spain that are losing weight both demographically and economically.
Economists publish trends about Spain’s depopulated provinces
In the publication “La despoblación de la España interior” (the depopulation of the Spanish interior), the two economists Eduardo Bandrés and Vanessa Azón discuss the 23 Spanish provinces that have lost half their original population since 1950.
More Spaniards, less equal distribution of inhabitants
Although the Spanish population has more than doubled since 1900, the distribution of the Spaniards across the territory is by no means equal. Young people and people up to retirement age in particular have flocked to larger cities in the last 70 years because of employment opportunities. A map in the article by El Economista shows that mainly coastal areas and major cities in Madrid and the north of Spain have become more populated in recent decades at the expense of the interior.
Three trends within depopulated provinces of Spain
While these provinces are all going through the same thing, the future seems to be different for all of them. Three different trends can be seen in recent years.
Spanish provinces where depopulation continues
The first trend affects the Spanish provinces of Avila, Cuenca, Leon, Zamora, Salamanca, Lugo, Ourense, Segovia, Palencia, Soria and Teruel. From a demographic point of view, these areas are unfavourable due to a high average age and low employment. Therefore, they are unattractive provinces for young people to settle. In these provinces, depopulation is continuing.
Stagnated depopulation in provinces
For the second trend, there is a stagnation of depopulation. These are the provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Badajoz, Cáceres, Córdoba and Jaén. These areas have suffered from depopulation but a significant proportion of the younger residents and jobs have remained. While unemployment in these areas is high, they only seem to need a new boost from an economic point of view to regain their attractiveness and attract residents.
Depopulated provinces that are attracting new inhabitants
The latter trend affects the provinces of Guadalajara, Burgos, Huesca, La Rioja, Valladolid and Zaragoza: depopulated Spain that is currently making a comeback. Although these areas are not brilliant demographically – the aging population is significant – these provinces are achieving good economic results. Per capita, GDP is above average, unemployment is low and there are large cities in the vicinity that contribute to job creation.
Solution for every Spanish province different
The authors of “La despoblación de la España interior” report that although all 23 depopulated provinces of Spain have the same past, the policies to combat depopulation in these areas should certainly not be the same. Each province needs its own policy to regain population and employment. Each province faces its own problems and demographic and economic challenges.