The provisional figures from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) released this week show that the country’s population fell by 106,146 people in last year, representing a fall of 0.2%.
As of January 2021, Spain has an official population of 47.3 million people of which 88.6% have Spanish citizenship (41.9 million) and 11.4% are foreign nationals (5.4 million).
The fall is the first in four years, after having recovered from the recession years which saw a steady drop from 2009 until 2015.
The trend then was for younger Spaniards to leave the country for work reasons to other – mainly northern European destinations to find employment and for many foreign immigrants – typically South American, returning to their homeland, as the jobs dried up in Spain.
The latest fall reflects the 70,000 dead from the coronavirus, a reduced birth rate as well as immigrants returning to their home countries.
The figures are based on local municipal resident registers ( el padron) which are sent in for a national compilation.
The figures for the Madrid region showed the steepest drop of all – 34,297 people – the population now stands at 6,8889,888.
The long term trend remains unsettled but most worrying is the steady downward in birth and fertility rates which the pandemic has only amplified – the figures for births in November 2020 showed a 10% drop on the same month in 2019 whilst December´s showed an alarming 20% drop.
The birth rate in Spain is one of the lowest in the world according to the United Nations.
It seems likely that the figures for 2021 will also show a further drop, though more likely to reflect a lower birth rate than higher death rate now that the coronavirus pandemic is receeding.
The economic impact on couples having children is lilely to linger for some time to come.
Some forecasts predict that the population of Spain is on a long term downward path – with one UN Report forecasting a halving in the coming decades