William Chislett (July 21, 2022)
The arrival of millions of immigrants saved Spain’s population from plummeting, but the birth rate is still well below the replacement rate.
But for the massive influx of immigrants over the past two decades, Spain’s population would have shrunk enormously, creating shortages in the labour market and straining the pay-as-you-go pension system, as fewer workers would be supporting pensioners. The number of foreign-born residents rose from 1.2 million in 1998 (2.9% of the 40.2 million population) to 7.2 million in 2020 (15.2% of the 47.4 million).
For the past five years, there have been more deaths than births. This negative natural population change (see Figure 1), accentuated in 2020 and 2021 by COVID-19, looks set to remain for the foreseeable future.