Spain’s population falls as number of foreigners leaving continues to rise

Statistic experts predict there will be more deaths than births registered in 2015

Álvaro Sánchez
Travelers at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas International Airport.
Travelers at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas International Airport.EFE
More information
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Exit of immigrants sees Spain’s population fall for second year in a row
Spaniards of all ages are leaving the country, but just how big is the exodus?

Spain’s population has dropped for the third consecutive year, partly due to continued rise of the number of immigrants leaving the country.

On January 1, 2015 Spain had 146,959 fewer people than it did on the same day the year before, according to data released on Wednesday by the National Statistics Institute (INE) based on information from municipal rolls. These latest figures reveal that Spain’s population stands at 46,624,382 people.

The drop in the number of foreigners resident in the country by close to 300,000 is one reason for Spain’s falling population. Spurred by the economic crisis, many foreigners have returned to their home countries or moved to other nations. Those who have stayed, and have been granted Spanish nationality, now fall in the category of Spaniards registered on the municipal rolls, which increased by 0.35% – or 146,884 people – over 2014.

According to preliminary figures released by the INE in June of last year, 205,870 people were granted citizenship in 2014.

Of the 4.7 million foreigners living in Spain, around 2.6 million come from countries outside the European Union. But their numbers have also dropped – by 377,000 over 2014.

In Spain, a person dies every 69 seconds while a child is born every 86 seconds

But the other 2.1 million residents from EU countries increased their presence in Spain in 2014 by 82,000 compared to the previous year.

Romanians and Moroccans continue to make up the biggest foreign communities in Spain. One out of five foreigners living in Spain is from either Morocco or Romania. Because more than half are under the age of 40, these nationals are helping to contribute to replacing Spain’s own aging population.

The number of births in 2014 outpaced the number of deaths by 31,678, but this was the lowest such figure seen since 2000. INE officials are predicting that 2015 will see more deaths than births in Spain for the first time since the Civil War (1936-1939).

In Spain, a person dies every 69 seconds while a child is born every 86 seconds. That means there will be 19,268 more deaths than births recorded in 2015, statistics experts predict.

They also estimate that Spain will lose about a million people over the next 15 years and that by 2063 there will be 330,423 more deaths than births.

INE experts predict that by 2063 there will be 330,423 more deaths than births

“The number of deaths will not drop,” explains Pau Miret, a researcher at the Center for Demographic Studies in Barcelona. “The generations that reach very advanced ages are growing larger each time and those that reach the reproduction age are dropping.”

Besides the decline in population, the main challenge will be aging.

The average age of Spain’s population will not stop rising for various reasons. First, Spaniards typically branch off from their families later in life than other Europeans. The average age is 28.9 years.

This prevents them from starting their own families any earlier. Spanish women are having their first child at around age 31.8 and the median number of children born to each woman is 1.32 while in the rest of Europe it is 2.1.

“The rate of dependency – the proportion of people over the age of 65 compared to those between the ages of 25 and 65 – will continue to rise because of falling birthrates,” says José García Montalve, an economics professor at Pompeu Fabra University. “This will complicate the sustainability of the pensions system even if the unemployment rate is reduced. Everything will depend on the hypothetical improvement of productivity.”

English version by Martin Delfín.

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