Is the pandemic reversing rural depopulation in Spain?

by Deborah Cater
Is rural depopulation in Spain reversing?
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Recently, the Spanish government announced it would allocate billions of euros to combat rural depopulation. However, the pandemic appears to be addressing the issue as young adults leave Spanish cities.

On Sunday, the Spanish newspaper El País devoted an article to territorial population. Ever since Franco there has been a real exodus from the countryside towards the city. This could change as the government announced in mid-March it would allocate €10billion of European funds to combat rural depopulation.

Most of Spain is still forest (over 19 million hectares), agricultural land comes in second with almost 17 million hectares.

More companies set up in the Spanish countryside

It’s not only companies taking this step. The Spanish news site 20minutos.es writes on Monday that many young people, making ends meet on the ERTE scheme, can no longer afford a house in the city. Therefore, they are looking for accommodation outside the city.

Casa Las Dunas Spain

Spanish cities contended with population decline before pandemic

The trend of young people moving from the big city to the countryside is becoming increasingly visible, although it is still too early to demonstrate this with statistics. In the first half of 2020, however, regions such as Madrid and Catalonia were dealing with a decline in inhabitants before the corona pandemic really took hold. According to INE data, in the first semester of 2020, some 9,000 people chose to leave Madrid and live in the countryside.

Teleworking and high housing costs main causes 

A professor of sociology at the European University of Madrid reports that compulsory teleworking eliminated the need for people to live in the city. Rising unemployment and the crisis are causing people to look for new opportunities in rural areas. Although there are no more job opportunities outside the city in Spain yet, housing costs are often half that of in the cities. 

According to experts, it is too early to predict whether this trend will continue. They question whether the Spanish countryside will become increasingly populous, or whether young adults will eventually choose to return to the city or even decide to leave Spain, such as after the 2008 economic crisis.

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