, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 229-249
Date: 14 Nov 2012

Demography, Migration and the Economy at a Regional Level: Recent Evidence from Catalonia

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In the last decade Spain had one of the highest immigration levels in the European Union and Catalonia was one of the most important destinations within the country. Immigration drove a strong and fast population growth and rejuvenated the population of the region. The world economic crisis is probably going to mark a turning point in international migration trends and has already caused a sharp decrease in Spanish and Catalan immigration flows. However, Catalonia is historically a very intriguing example of the close links that exist between demographic trends, migration movements and economic development. Around the mid 1800s the region was one of the first in Europe to experience a demographic transition and as a consequence it was affected early on by low levels of natural population change and by imbalances in the age structure. Moreover, Catalonia’s economy has almost always been one of the most dynamic in Spain. The main consequence of the diverging trends in demography and the economy has been the recurrent need for large immigration flows in periods of sustained economic growth. From this point of view, Catalonia is a meaningful example for all the European regions with a structurally low fertility and dynamic economic systems. The main aims of this paper are to analyse the interplay between demographic, migratory and economic factors during the last decade in Catalonia and try to infer their possible future interactions, according to the results of innovative regional projections implemented for EU and EFTA countries.

This paper is based on and updates the findings of the case-study prepared by the two authors for the Applied Research project DEMIFER (Demographic and migratory flows affecting European regions and cities), conducted within the framework and with the financial support of the ESPON 2013 Programme, partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund. (http://www.espon.eu/export/sites/default/Documents/Projects/AppliedResearch/DEMIFER/FinalReport/DEMIFER_Deliverable12_5_ES51Cataluna.pdf).