Foreign and Spanish-nationality migratory flows in the Catalan rural areas (1996-2009): end of depopulation or new territorial patterns?

Fernando Gil-Alonso, Universitat de Barcelona
Jordi Bayona i Carrasco, Universitat de Barcelona

This paper analyses, within a rapid international migration growth context, the impact of foreign population increase on Catalan municipalities with less than 1.000 inhabitants between 1996 and 2009. Does this new growth put an end to rural depopulation or does it start a new pattern where foreign migrants would be substituting the local decreasing population? Do these territorially diversified entry flows increase spatial segregation patterns between a “dynamic rural” area and a “regressive rural” one? Spanish official Padron Continuo (local register of resident population) and Movimiento Natural de la Población (births and deaths) data are used to answer these questions and build a municipality typology intending to differentiate diverse Catalan rural areas based on the consequences which the arrival of foreign immigrants have had on autochthonous demographic dynamics. Preliminary results show that, even though practically all these small municipalities have received foreign immigrants, around half of them are still losing population or have a small increase. Only small municipalities placed near the Barcelona metropolitan region or in tourist areas (in or close to the Pyrenees, or near the Mediterranean coast) have significantly increased their population. Therefore, the arrival of international immigrants, reinforced or counteracted by Spanish internal flows, has emphasized the territorial dichotomy between a few dynamic rural areas and regressive ones, the latter still occupying most of inland Catalonia.

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Presented in Session 89: Internal mobility of international migrants