Population in Spain grows again after previous decline due to Covid-19

by Lorraine Williamson
population in Spain

On 1 January 2022, Spain had a population of 47,435,597 inhabitants. That is 50,490 more (0.1%) than on the same date in 2021, according to a publication by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE).  

Of the total population, 41,923,039 have Spanish nationality (88.4%) and 5,512,558 are foreigners. Despite the population increase, Spain has not yet reached its pre-pandemic level, when it had 47,450,795 inhabitants.  

‘We are entering the post-pandemic phase. So the recovery of the birth rate will be determined by the recovery of the economy and the labour market. It remains to be seen whether we will see sustained economic growth, an expansion of the labour market, a new wave of immigration and so on in the coming years. But it is positive that we are moving from loss to gain. Although it is too early to see if there will be moments of strong recovery,’ says Carlos Ferrás, demographer and Professor of Human Geography at the University of Santiago de Compostela.  

Migration back on track after pandemic 

The end of the pandemic has also led to a resumption of migration movements. This had slowed down during the most critical moments. This is what the Madrid School of Political Science, Sociology and International Relations is observing, explains Director of Institutional Communication Ana Isabel Fernández. ‘We see that there is more international movement. Not only are tourist activities increasing again, but so is international mobility, both of students and workers,’ she says.  

The net number of Spaniards fell by 21,920 (-0.1%) in the year 2021. Whereas, the number of foreigners increased by 72,410 (1.3%). Thus, on 1 January 2022, the immigrant population represents 11.6% of the total registered population in Spain. That is a tenth more than at the beginning of 2021 and the highest figure since 2013. ‘There is a loss of the Spanish population because there are far more deaths than births. Consequently, the increases are due to immigration that continues to arrive,’ says Alejandro Macarrón, director of the Fundación Renacimiento Demográfico. It is the immigrant population that is responsible for the growth that, with the exception of last year, is happening every year.  

Foreign population in Spain growth 

In 2021, the foreign population increased in most communities. The regions with the highest foreign population concentration are;

  • Balearic Islands (18.8% of their inhabitants are foreigners)
  • Catalonia (16.2%)
  • Comunidad Valenciana (15.3%)

And those where there was the lowest concentration

nederlandse orthopeed
  • Extremadura (3.3%)
  • Galicia (4.4%)
  • Asturias (4.5%)

879,943 of those registered in Spain are from Morocco, 623,097 from Romania and 312,915 from Colombia. They are followed by 290,372 British, 273,889 Italians and 223,591 Chinese. The biggest increases in 2021 occurred among citizens from Colombia (21,164 more), Italy (16,633 more) and Venezuela (11,672), while the biggest decreases occurred among Romanians (-21,376), Chinese (-5,663) and Brazilians(-4,898). 

Increasing age  

The population is getting older. Twenty per cent of the registered population is 65 years and older. This is the first time that this age group has reached this percentage. The age group between 45 and 60 represents 30.1%, the age group between 16 and 44) 35% and the age group under 16 14.9%. Every year society ages a little more because few children are born and of the foreign population only Muslims have a higher number of children per woman. Among the other nationalities, the number is on a par with the Spaniards’, explains Macarrón.  

In this sense, Ferrás says, there is an ‘acculturation’ of immigrants to the customs of Spanish society, ‘so immigrant women have fewer children. In the medium and long term, this will become a social problem. ‘It means more social burdens, a social bill that will have to be paid and that will pose a very serious problem for the future of society as a whole,’ he says.  

Average age  

Residents in Spain have an average age of 44.1 years, the highest since the series began, having already increased by four years in this century. Among residents with Spanish nationality, the age is slightly higher at 45. The highest average ages among the dominant nationalities are those of citizens of the United Kingdom (54.1 years), Germany (50) and France (43). In contrast, the lowest average ages are found among people from Honduras (30.4 years), Pakistan (31.1) and Morocco (32).  

Where does the Spanish population live? 

20.2% of the Spanish population live in municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants, while 39.9% of the registered population live in municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. The most densely populated regions on 1 January were Andalucia, Catalonia and the Autonomous Community of Madrid. At the other end of the scale are La Rioja, Cantabria and Navarra. These areas have the lowest number of registered inhabitants in the country. Over the past year, the population has increased in nine communities, including the Valencia, Andalucia and Catalonia sub-regions. Eight sub-regions saw their populations decline, including Castilla y León, (-13,075), Asturias (-7,293), Madrid (-6,795) and the Basque Country (-6,792).  

Also read: More marriages in Spain on the rocks after covid restrictions

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