The Spanish population is set to drop by more than a million people (1.23%) over the next ten years because of the falling birth rate, decreasing immigration and increasing emigration, according to a study published today by the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
The study is effectively a simulation of the size and demographic structure of the population based on today's trends, which forecasts that from 2011 onwards the migratory balance will be negative, as the estimated 450,000 new immigrants will be balanced by 580,850 Spaniards leaving for foreign shores.
Furthermore, deaths will outnumber births by 2019, as demographic growth figures are "slightly negative" for the first time in 2011 after a period of intense population growth.
The Spanish population is therefore forecast to drop to 45.6 million by 2021, with 2020 set to show 18.1% fewer births and 9.7% more deaths than in 2010.
One of the most surprising tendencies highlighted by the INE is the increase in emigration and the consequent reversal of the migratory balance in Spain. If forecasts are true, 130,850 more people will have emigrated from Spain in 2011 than will have arrived as immigrants, and if this tendency continues, this negative balance will reached a culmulative total of 945,663 by 2020.
If this current trend continues it will have negative demographic effect in a number of autonomous communities, most notably Catalunya, Madrid, Valencia and the Basque Country.
As well as migration, the falling birth rate will also have a negative effect on population figures, as the number of children being born continues to drop whilst the death rate keeps rising as the population gets older. The INE predicts that between 2011 and 2020 in the region of 4.4 million babies will be born, 4.7% fewer than during the previous decade. If this trend continues, 396,417 children will be born in 2020, 18.1% fewer than in 2010.
The gradual ageing of the population means that there will be 4.1 million deaths over the next ten years, 7.8% more than between 2001 and 2010. Thus, in 2020 there will be 415,386 deaths (9.7% more than in 2010) despite the fact that life expectancy will have increased a couple of years by then to an average of 80.9 for men and 86.3 for women.
In fact, in ten years time there will be 1.4 million more people over the age of 64 living in Spain than there are now, an increase of 17.8%, meaning that the dependency rate (the proportion of people of working age in the population compared with children under 16 and those over 64) will increase to 57.3% in 2021, i.e. for every person of working age in Spain, there will be six people who are either retired or at school.