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First population hike since 2011 explained: Who, where from, how, and how old
SPAIN'S population has risen for the first time in six years, according to latest figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE) – and although foreign residents barely make up 10%, this is largely due to an increasing number having taken Spanish citizenship.
As at January 1 this year, the headcount on the national census came to exactly 46,528,966 – a rise of 88,867 since January 1, 2016 and the first increase since the beginning of 2011.
Spaniards rose in number by 81,975 between the start and end of 2016, through a combination of returning expats and babies being born, whilst the foreigner headcount went up by 6,892.
As at the start of 2017, a total of 42.1 million residents in Spain were Spanish nationals and 4.4 million were immigrants.
The foreigner figure has fallen from around 13% of the population a decade ago, but the INE says this has largely been influenced by long-term non-EU citizens choosing to apply for a Spanish passport, as was the case with 150,739 in the year 2016 – a number which may well go up, further depleting the expat percentage, over the next few years if British citizens decide to 'become Spanish' due to Brexit fears.
The INE reports a positive migratory balance of 89,126 – being the number by which incoming residents exceed those leaving – meaning the population increase is largely due to immigration than new babies.
In fact, even though the balance of births over deaths was positive – more babies than people dying – it only came to 259 in total.
Over 2016, according to INE figures, immigration reached 417,033 people, or 21.9% more than in 2015, whilst outward migration figures saw 327,906 moving away from Spain, or 4.6% fewer than in 2015.
This is the first time since the early years of the crisis that immigration has exceeded emigration – always a sign of a country becoming more prosperous.
Net migration: Spaniards versus foreigners
Broken down into migration numbers by nationality, a negative balance of emigrating versus returning Spaniards was seen in 2016, a figure of -23,540, meaning fewer citizens coming back to live in their native country than Spaniards leaving to set up home elsewhere, a situation which has been largely provoked by the financial crisis and younger adults having to move across borders to find jobs or pursue their desired careers.
In 2015, however, the negative Spanish expat-versus-returner balance was far worse – nearly double at -42,536, meaning considerable improvement in the following 12 months.
Concerning foreigners alone, a positive migratory balance of 112,666 was seen – being the number of arrivals over departures – showing fewer immigrants going back to their own countries and more new migrants settling in Spain.
This is the second consecutive year Spain has experienced a positive net migration figure for foreigners, and by far the highest in more than six years: the increase in net migration between 2015 and 2016 was 176.3%.
Spaniards emigrating only decreased in number by 9% year-on-year, with 86,112 leaving the country and 62,572 returning, with around half the latter – 35,348 – being foreign-born citizens who later took Spanish nationality.
And a high number of those Spaniards who left were expats with acquired Spanish nationality who had decided to return to their country of origin.
Spanish nationals who returned to live in Spain mainly came from Venezuela, Ecuador and the UK, and those Spaniards who left home to move abroad typically went to the UK, France and Germany.
New foreign arrivals came to 354,461, or 22.2% more year-on-year, whilst 241,795 foreigners left, or 3% fewer than in the previous year, giving the aforementioned net migration figure for non-Spanish citizens of 112,666.
Average population age
According to the INE, the age groups which most increased in number were the 40-74 bracket, the 10-19 segment and the over-80s.
Those who reduced most in number were aged 20 to 39, under 10, or between 75 and 79.
The number of residents aged 95 or more sat at 104,469 at the beginning of this year – a year-on-year rise of 10% and the age group which is increasing most rapidly, having broken the 100,000 barrier for the first time ever.
Population increase by region
It comes as no surprise that the regions whose populations declined are those in the centre and north, given that expats or those planning on having children typically seek to live in coastal areas and large cities rather than land-locked or rural communities.
Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja and Aragón in the north, and Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura in the centre and inland saw a decrease in headcount, whilst everywhere else in Spain reported a population expansion.
Castilla y León suffered the greatest population decline, followed by Extremadura and Asturias.
In fact, the total inhabitants in Castilla y León, which makes up around a third of mainland Spain, is now only slightly higher than that of the Canary Islands, whilst Extremadura, which covers nearly a quarter of the peninsula's land mass, has just two-thirds the population of the Balearic Islands (pictured right).#foto4de
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