Out-migration of Spanish immigrants

Larramona, G. (2013). Out-migration of Spanish immigrants, Population, 68(2) 213-236.

Out-migration is an increasingly significant phenomenon in Spain. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the role of Spain as a sending country changed, and it became a significant receiver of immigrants. The empirical literature, scant as it is, focuses on return migration rather than on the broader concept of international out-migration, and on international return migration from the perspective of Spain as a country of origin. In this paper we use population register variations to examine out-migration as a broader concept that includes return and non-return, with Spain as the host country.

The limitations of this study are clear. Above all, the database used (EVR) presents several problems for the analysis of out-migration. Some of these problems are also found in most other papers analysing Spanish migration, but others are specific to the analysis of out-migration. The improvement in data collection in 2004, and more especially in 2006, allows us to analyse overall out-migration, but not to differentiate between return and non-return migration in all cases of out-migration where the destination is unknown. However, the ENI survey was used to confirm that the remaining sample was not biased. Furthermore, certain important determinants of out-migration are not available in the database. Since there is no alternative database, this present study is only a first attempt to identify certain characteristics of international out-migration, with Spain as a host country, and the variety of patterns of return and non-return migration.

During the period 2002 to 2009, there was a greater increase in return migration than in non-return out-migration. The main conclusions can be summarized in five statements: 

  • Out-migration of immigrants mainly concerns men in the early stages of their working life, while non-return migration is more frequent among those aged 30-34, and return migration at ages 18-29.
  • Asian, African and Latin-American immigrants leaving Spain are less likely to return to their birth country.
  • An increase in GDP per capita in the destination country increases the probability of non-return out-migration, which is usually more motivated by economic factors than return migration.
  • For the same reason, if the unemployment rate in the origin region increases, the probability of non-return out-migration increases, as labour market integration becomes more difficult.
  • The greater the share of immigrants in the total population in the region of residence, the higher the likelihood that out-migrants will return home.

Los lectores interesados pueden encontrar la versión completa de este trabajo aquí

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