Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga
Institut d´Anàlisis Econòmic (IAE-CSIC)
ICREA & Institut d´Anàlisis Econòmic (IAE-CSIC)
Since 2001 Catalonia has experienced a tremendous inflow of international immigrants,
who at this moment account for about 14 per cent of the total population. Immigration
however is not a new phenomenon in Catalonia. Aclose look at figure 1 shows that the
immigration rate as a share of the total population in the second half of the 60´s was
similar to the one experienced between 2001 and 2006. The main difference however is
that while in the 60’s migration flows came mainly from elsewhere in Spain, in the last
few years the migrants come from about everywhere in the world.
Migration flows are auniversal phenomenon. At this moment there are about 200
million immigrants (190.6 million in 2005; World Bank, 2007) in the world, which
1 We would like to thank Ognjen Obucina for his helpful research assistance.
represents approximately 3 per cent of the world population. Although of all these
migrants only about one third is going from poor to rich countries (OECD, 2007), this is
the typeof migration that Catalonia is receiving. In the third quarter of 2007 (INE,
2007), almost 90 per cent of Catalonian immigrants came from less economically
developed countries. The main determinant of this type of migration (excluding the
relatively small percentage of political migrants2) is the economic situation of (and the
differential between) the country of origin and of destination.
Theeffects that international migration is having in the Catalan economy and its
inhabitants are still difficult to analyze, as the phenomenon is very recent and there is
limited data availability. Nevertheless, one can extrapolate our knowledge from other
countries to the Catalan experience. This article wants to have a close look at the
immigration to Catalonia and discuss what the predicted(present and future) impacts in
its economy are. This means that we will not consider either all the other effects that
immigration may have in a society or all discussion on the rights that individuals have
to move around the world. First, we will examine the migration flows. Here, we are not
only interested in quantities but also in the composition of the immigrants, such as their
educationlevel and country of origin. Second, we will list the expected consequences
that immigration can have in the economy taking into account the particular
characteristics of Catalan immigration. The focus will be on the impacts of migration on
employment rates, wages, economic growth and productivity, crime and the social
welfare system. Third we will discuss the causes of immigration and have alook at the
future although we will explain that it is difficult to know in advance how immigration
will develop. Finally, we will conclude.
Immigration to Catalonia: Flows, characteristics and comparatives
We define immigrants as people who live in a country other than their native one3. Out
of a population of 7,197,174 inhabitants in Catalonia (first of January of 2007),
1,061,360 had beenborn abroad (Padrón; INE, 2007), that is, 14.7 per cent. The impact
2 Around 5 per cent of the world´s immigrants are considered refugees by UNHCR (2007): 9.9 million
under UNHCR mandate and 4.3 million under UNRWA mandate. In Spain, there were just 5,275
refugees at the end of 2006 (UNHCR, 2007), only 0.1 per cent of the total stock of immigrants.
3 Note that this departs from the typicaldefinition used by INE and the Spanish government, which
identifies immigrants with foreigners. The qualitative conclusions of the study do not change with either
definition. However, the numbers are different. 13.4 per cent of the Catalan population was foreign at the
beginning of 2007 (Padrón; INE, 2007) whereas 14.7 per cent were immigrants according to our
definition. Spanish nationals...