MADRID, Spain– Tens of thousands of Spaniards are reportedly fleeing Spain to escape from the Eurozone, which has become a total economic free fall. Total unemployment in Spain has reached a rate of over 25 percent and unemployment among people under the age of 25 has reached a rate of around 54 or 55 percent.
Thousands are fleeing to Britain; many of the economic refugees were evicted from their homes after the global crash six years ago. The crash had followed the property boost, aided by the European Central Bank’s eurozone interest rate policy.
Over 8,200 Spaniards immigrated to Britain last year. According to the Spanish National Statistics Institute, that number makes Britain the most favored destination of fleeing Spaniards out of all the countries in the European Union. A report from the Times states that figures from the Department for Work and Pensions reveal that around 51,000 Spaniards registered for a national insurance number—something which is required for anyone who wishes to work in the UK—by May of 2014.
Approximately 79,306 Spaniards have left Spain in 2013 and around 30,532 Spaniards left Spain in 2012.
A report from Caritas, a Catholic charity in Spain, states that Spain also has one of the worst poverty rates in the EU in terms of child poverty, and that thanks to a round of changes to social programs, in many families, the only economic support is pension from the grandparent. However, potential cuts to pensions and other programs may mean that there could be an increase in the economic strain on families.
While Spain’s economy has been showing some signs of recovery, there has yet to be an increase in jobs. The Financial Times reported that the PMI index, which is a measure of a country’s growth momentum, showed Spain hitting its highest level in seven years.
However, this report also confirmed a slowdown in economic recovery for Germany and France. Economists have expressed worry that the trend of Spain’s youth leaving the country to work in the UK might have an negative economic impact on Spain. According to economist, Edward Hugh, there wouldn’t be any effect noticed in the short term and that it might actually be a benefit as it brings down the unemployment level slightly.
Hugh goes on to explain that while there may not be any effects in the short term, there could be repercussions economically in the long term due to the fact that many of the Spaniards arriving in Britain are well qualified. A majority of the 51,000 Spaniards who emigrated last year were around or under the age of 34. This makes them the second largest group to journey to Britain, following Polish immigrants.
“Around six million people arrived in Spain in the heady days of the construction boom in the first decade of the century,” said Hugh. “Those same people are now leaving—the country lost 400,000 people last year.”
Hugh went on to state that there could also be a negative effect politically due to the courting of elder voters by Spanish politicians. Since the Spanish government has prioritized issues that would appeal to the elderly voters—like maintaining the level of pensions received—many younger voters have begun to look outside the country for possible economic opportunities, and since the birth rate has been dropping at a steady pace, the young voters have become very important.
“The big fear is that this temporary loss could become a permanent one, because Spain could get stuck in a stagnation like what we’ve seen in Japan, with very low growth rates and not a lot of attraction for young people to stay,” said Hugh.
– Monica Newell