Urban Depopulation: Shrinking Cities and Brain Drain in Spanish Sending Regions

Miguel González-Leonardo , Centre d´Estudis Demogràfics
Niall Newsham, University of Liverpool

This paper examines the regional migratory balances of Spanish youth by urban-rural perspective and educational attainment, focused in brain drain and brain gain processes in 2000-2008 and 2009-2017. In order to do so, three sources of the Spanish Statistical Office (INE) are used: Estadística de Variaciones Residenciales, Padrón Municipal de Habitantes and Encuesta de Población Activa. The main results reveal that depopulation, as a consequence of brain drain processes, is no longer exclusive to rural areas. Rather, this study finds that such depopulation has recently extended to small and medium cities of traditional out-flow regions. Young people with high educational attainment of these cities now display a higher propensity to emigrate towards the main metropolitan areas of Spain, namely Madrid. The departure of the qualified young population is not compensated for by the arrival of immigrants, both in quantity and in regards to the level of education of such immigrants. This situation gives rise to negative migration balances and processes of educational decapitalization and has been found to have increased over time.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy