Spanish migration balance negative for the first time in years

by Deborah Cater
Spanish migration balance negative in 2020
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For the first time in three years, the Spanish migration balance is negative. Also, in 2020 far more people died than babies were born. And yet the population of Spain has increased.

In 2020, 66,293 Spaniards exchanged their country to live outside Spain. This is evident from the migration figures of the National Institute of Statistics (INE) in Spain. With the departure of so many Spanish residents, the migration balance of Spaniards is negative for the first time in three years.

Last year (2020), 52,511 Spaniards, who had settled abroad, decided to return to Spain. In concrete terms, Spain lost 13,782 Spanish citizens last year, the highest number since 2016 when Spain ended the year with 27,252 fewer Spanish citizens.

Corona pandemic puts the brakes on returning Spaniards

The pandemic appears to have had a significant impact on the number of Spaniards returning to their own country in 2020. In 2019, 84,458 inhabitants still decided to return to Spain. Since 2013, the number of Spaniards returning to their own country has been increasing. The coronavirus clearly put a brake on the increase of the past seven years.

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Foreign migrants compensate Spanish migration balance

The INE also reports the complete migration figures from Spain, not just from Spaniards. A total of 465,721 people, including 413,210 foreigners, came to Spain to settle here last year. 249,477 people have just left Spain, including 183,184 foreigners. Most foreign migrants came from Colombia, Venezuela and Morocco.

Which Spanish regions received the most people?

Not all regions in Spain received more people. In the regions of the Basque Country, Galicia, Extremadura, Asturias and Castile and León, there was a negative migration balance. This means more people (Spaniards and foreigners) have left these regions than settled there. On the other hand, the Balearic Islands and Murcia gained the most inhabitants through migration.

Excess mortality in Spain does not stop Spanish population growth

Other population factors are birth and death rates. Last year 491,602 people died in Spain, the highest number since the post-war period. 338,435 babies were born which represents a natural decrease of 153,167. Although more Spaniards left than arrived, and more people died than were born, foreign migrants ensured Spain’s population did not decline in 2020.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Spanish population increased. In January 2021, the INE registered 47,394,233 inhabitants in Spain. This is 0.1% more than the population counted at the beginning of 2020.

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