According to new figures from the 2022 census released by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) in January 2023, the population of Spain is currently the highest on record.
In January 2022, Spain’s population stood at 47,475,420 people. This was an increase of 0.19% compared to the same time the previous year, as Spain recovered from the surge of deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This recovery mainly seems to be due to an increasing population of foreigners moving to Spain, which rose to 5,542,932 in January 2022. Not only was this number up 102,784 on the previous year, but foreigners now account for 11.7% of the total population in Spain – the highest since 2013.
Further data from the INE also revealed that Spain registered a record-breaking 478,990 new residents in the first half of 2022 alone. But who are the people moving to Spain in such high numbers, and why? Let’s take a closer look at Spain’s latest population boost.
Who is immigrating to Spain?
The census data suggests that foreigners are the driving force behind population growth in Spain. The percentage of foreigners is the highest it’s been in a decade, while the native population of Spanish nationals decreased by 12,471 from 2021 to 2022.
Out of around 5.5 million foreigners in Spain, EU citizens count for about 1.6 million of them. Of these, the largest group of EU nationals immigrating to Spain are Romanians, followed by Italians then Germans and French people. Of the remaining non-EU foreigners moving to Spain, the largest group is Moroccans, followed by Colombians and then British people.
While the average age of Spanish nationals is 45 years old, the average age of foreigners registered in Spain is 37.1 years old, with foreigners who are EU citizens averaging at 39.6 years old.
Within the largest groups of foreign nationals, the highest average ages are found amongst those with large communities of retired expats in Spain – with Brits averaging 54.1 years old, Germans 50 years old, and the French 43 years old.
The foreigners moving to Spain with the lowest average ages are from Honduras at 30.4 years old, Pakistan at 31.1 years old, and Morocco at 32 years old.
The latest INE population data from July 2022 also records a higher number of women living in Spain who are non-Spanish nationals than men. This reflects the overall population balance of Spain, where women outnumber men by almost a million.
What does the rising population mean for Spain?
The trend of a growing foreign population seems likely to continue, and may be essential to the long-term future of Spain’s overall population.
According to the INE’s demographic projections, the population of Spain is predicted to reach 51 million people by 2037, including over 4 million expected immigrants. Growth is then projected to slow, with the general population reaching 52.9 million by 2072.
If the population of Spanish-born nationals is expected to fall from 84.5% to 63.5% by 2072, this would mean that around a third of people living in Spain in the next 50 years will have been born in another country and migrated to Spain.
This is good news for Spain, whose birth rates hit the lowest figure on record in 2021. With the majority of immigrants moving to Spain for new work opportunities, Spain’s ageing population will depend on an influx of foreign labour to sustain the Spanish economy.
Why do so many people want to immigrate to Spain?
There are many things about Spain that make it an attractive place to live, but what exactly is drawing foreigners to Spain?
INE’s National Immigrant Survey found that, across all genders and age groups, these were the top ten reasons for immigrating to Spain:
- Quality of life
- Looking for a better job
- Family reunification
- Lack of employment
- Cost of living
- Other (unspecified)
- The weather
- Training or education
- Change of job description
- Political reasons
- Temporary transit
- Religious reasons
According to the InterNations Expat Insider Survey, immigrants voted Spain the number one country for quality of life in 2022, out of 52 countries. Spain also came first in leisure (including culinary, recreational, and cultural opportunities) and second for the best climate, while ranking highly for healthcare, ease of settling, and cost of living.
This supports the INE’s findings that most immigrants are moving to Spain for a better quality of life overall. The majority of foreigners come to Spain looking for better work, training, or education opportunities, believing that they will also benefit from the affordable cost of living, pleasant Mediterranean weather, and more welcoming socio-political climate.
From the climate to the cuisine, there’s no denying that Spain’s laidback way of life is appealing to foreigners from around the world. If you’re one of them and considering immigrating to Spain yourself, why not start planning now to make your dream a reality?
To make the process of moving to Spain as smooth as possible, you’re likely to need the help of Spain immigration lawyers like Manzanares Abogados. From applying for the right Spanish visa to registering your arrival in Spain, the professionals can take care of the legal paperwork, so you can focus on settling into your new home in Spain.