The case of Spain

Report from Bruegel on migration to Spain.

“During the first decade of the twenty-first century, Spain experienced one of the largest waves of migration in European history, relative to its population. Shortly after signing the Treaty of Adherence to join the European Community in 1985, Spain went from being a sender to a receiver country.”

“Between 2002 and 2014, Spain received an accumulated immigration inflow of 7.3 million and a net flow of 4.1 million, making it the second-largest recipient of immigrants in absolute terms among OECD countries, following the United States.”

Spain went from having a total foreign population of 2% in 2000 to approximately 12% in 2011.

“This migration episode was largely concentrated during the first decade of the century, peaking in 2007. After the financial crisis the number of foreigners leaving Spain rapidly increased, while inflows became weaker, leading to much lower net flows (becoming modestly negative between 2012 and 2014).”

Between 2002 and 2014 the vast majority of migrants came from Europe (3.4 million), Latin America (2.5 million) and Africa (1.3 million, many from Morocco). … The report “Immigration and the Welfare State in Spain” by “Obra Social La Caixa” argues that educational level largely depends on the origin of the migrant; while migrants from Latin American and African countries have lower educational attainment, the contrary is true for Europeans.

“Although some voices claim that immigration to Spain may have had redistribution effects across Spaniards and immigrants in terms of employment and wages, there is empirical evidence suggesting that this was not the case (Carrasco et al, 2005) prior to the financial crisis. The study estimates an elasticity of employment rate with respect to the proportion of immigrants of -0.02. This result suggests that an increase of 10% in the proportion of immigrants (as it is the case for Spain between 1998 and 2009) would lead to a decrease in employment of native workers of around 0.2%.
The resulting story seems quite straightforward. Before the crisis, the Spanish economy was in need of young, “low-skilled” workers willing to accept relatively low salaries. Immigration raised employment figures and promoted economic growth. Although the integration of migrants into the labour force was very successful before 2008, the financial crisis led to a disproportionate increase in unemployment rates among migrants, even holding constant educational attainment, according to Eurostat data.”

The full report here.


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