Internal migration and Spanish regional convergence (1972-1998)

Larramona, G. y M. Sanso (2014) Internal migration and Spanish regional convergence (1972-1998), International Migration, DOI: 10.1111/imig.12027.

Following the results of a simple endogenous growth model, some useful conclusions are drawn from the empirical analysis of Spanish internal migrations between 1972 and 1998. Firstly, we find that there is no absolute convergence of the capital/labor ratio towards a unique value in the steady state but, rather, a persistent gap between the regions that generates permanent migration flows. Nevertheless, there has been conditional convergence in the regions, understood as a higher transitory growth of the capital/ labor ratio of the poorer regions than of the richer ones.

Secondly, we find that the evolution of the relative capital/labor ratio of each region follows a feedback process with respect to migration. Migration stimulates convergence between regions, which is illustrated by two indicators. The first is the higher migration rates at the beginning of the sample period, corresponding to greater growth rates of the capital per worker in the sending regions during these first years, and the parallel decrease of both variables over time. The second is the negative relationship found between migration and the relative capital/labor ratio. As the capital/labor ratios converge, lower regional differences discourage emigration, showing a situation close to their long-term trend. This trend towards convergence is tested with the estimation of the long-term parameters.

We find that, in the long term, there is a negative effect of the relative capital/labor ratio on migration. This central result of our estimation shows the existence of a conditional convergence process. The relative unemployment rate has a positive effect, indicating how the technological or institutional position complements the effect of the relative capital/labor ratio. The results of the econometric model explain the characterization of the long-term migration position of the regions, which is compared with the data of the decade after the sample period. Fifteen of seventeen regions experienced the behavior predicted by the model, the two exceptions corresponding to regions with a very high proportion of foreign immigration over the internal migration flows.

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